Eastern Conference Finals
The Raptors will be looking to even up the series with a win in Cleveland in Game 2 on Thursday.
The Cavaliers embarrassed the Raptors in Game 1, winning 115-84 as 11-point home favorites. Cleveland was dominant on both ends of the floor in that one, shooting 55.4% from the field and holding Toronto to just 42.1%. The Cavs also happened to have outrebounded the Raptors 54-35. If Toronto is going to find a way to win Game 2 then the team will need to improve in pretty much all aspects of the game.
One thing that does bode well for Toronto is that Cleveland is just 1-9 ATS after covering five or six of its past seven games this season. The Cavaliers are, however, 11-2 ATS when playing only their second game in seven days over the past three seasons. They are also 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS when hosting the Raptors on the year.
C Jonas Valanciunas (Ankle) remains out indefinitely for the Raptors and he is the only player that is expected to miss this game for either team.
The Raptors looked miserable in Game 1 and this team needs to show a complete effort on Thursday. If Toronto is going to come back and steal a win on Thursday then PG Kyle Lowry (17.9 PPG, 6.6 APG, 1.8 SPG in playoffs) must play better. He had just eight points on 4-for-14 shooting from the field and 0-for-7 shooting from three in Game 1. That type of play is unacceptable and he’ll need to hit some shots in Game 2. The Raptors’ only chance of winning this series is if Lowry outplays Kyrie Irving and that wasn’t the case last game.
SG DeMar DeRozan (19.9 PPG, 1.2 SPG in playoffs) will also need to come through in Game 2. DeRozan was solid in Game 1, scoring 18 points on 9-for-17 shooting. He did not play much in the second half because the game was a blowout, but he did show that he might just be able to find his rhythm in this series. The Raptors will need a big performance from DeRozan and that will mean that he must use his size to score from the mid-post. He’ll also need to make a habit of attacking the basket on Thursday.
The Cavaliers dominated Game 1 and the biggest x-factor for the team was PG Kyrie Irving (24.7 PPG, 5.4 APG, 1.3 SPG in playoffs). If Irving can continue to outplay Lowry then the Cavaliers are going to win this series pretty easily. He’ll need to continue to use his shiftiness to get to the basket, but he also must knock down some shots when open.
SF LeBron James (23.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 6.9 APG, 2.3 SPG in playoffs) is obviously also a major factor in determining whether or not this Cavaliers team will continue to dominate. He is one of the best players ever to lace them up and had 24 points on 11-for-13 shooting from the field in Game 1. Cleveland needs him to continue to attack the rim, as the Raptors do not have anybody with his combination of size or athleticism to stay in front of him.