The Cavs are a 4 seed that is less than the sum of their pieces.
Those struggles have directly impacted the Cavaliers at the sportsbooks, where they trail the Raptors as +175 underdogs (wager $100 to win $175) on the National Basketball Association playoff series prices. Toronto's only win was in the first meeting when the Raps decimated the Cavs 133-99 back on January 11 at the Air Canada Centre. He also shot a ridiculous 62% from the field and the Cavs went on to win the title. LeBron has had to shoulder such a heavy load before, but not in the first round like that in many years.
This is not about believing James will leave the Cavs at the end of the season. Furthermore, he had 8 assists and no turnovers.
Elsewhere on Sunday, James Harden scored 41 points as the Houston Rockets secured a dominant 110-96 victory over the Utah Jazz in the first game of their Western Conference semi-final. "Game seven separates the men from the boys". Jonas Valanciunas and Jakob Poeltl combined for 30 rebounds. The Raptors will play at home and on four days' of rest, having clinched their first-round series Friday night with a Game 6 win against the Washington Wizards. Cleveland actually closed out better against the Pacers in game 7 preventing most open shots, which is a trend that must continue. The Cavaliers won 132-129. DeRozan did dish out 17 assists with just one turnover in his matchups with Smith and Green. George Hill is working to come back. Jose Calderon was 4 of 4 from downtown and finished with 14 points. In terms of scoring the one weak spot was the power forward position.
Eliminating LeBron from the playoffs, of course, is no easy task to accomplish. However, Anunoby is the starter and he'll get first crack. I mentioned in the previous game how the Raptors didn't play defense. Toronto averaged 111.5 points per game in the regular season compared to Indiana's average of 105.2.
There are a lot of red flags for the Cavaliers coming into this series. As for Bebe, he could play out of need.
"What has not changed, however, is the looming, daunting challenge in their path - a 6'9", 250-pound beast who is unequivocally the best player in the world today.
The Cavs lost 133-99 on the last occasion they played in Toronto, on January 11. "I know the Cavs are kind of used to blowing through the first couple series". And James himself is testing the limits of what a player in his 15th year can do.
Beyond this, LeBron has the ability to override coaching decisions. He dished out seven-plus in six games, including one game with 12. Rust was no factor in either of the last two years. There's no situation where he should be beating anyone off the dribble. Cleveland no longer has Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love has not performed like the player that was an All-Star in the regular season.
"Their second unit is a big part of what they do", Lue said.
While Lowry has certainly played worse in the playoffs nearly annually, I'll focus on DeRozan. Jordan Clarkson, the league's second-highest bench scorer during the regular season, topped double-figures just once against IN, as did Rodney Hood. Rodney Hood was useless. Cleveland needed seven games - and several fortuitous calls - to eliminate IN and advance to the second round against the Raptors. Delon Wright showed up big in VanVleet's absence in the series. He will draw a tough assignment when he's matched up against LeBron.
The Raptors also dropped two of three to the Cavaliers during the regular season, capped by a pair of SU and against the spread losses in Cleveland over the final three weeks of the campaign.
"You can watch TV all you want, but you don't know how strong he is until you get out there on the floor and have to guard him", Siakam said. He averaged 12.1 assists per 100 possessions this season. but managed just 4.7 when Anunoby was matched up with him. An exhausting seven-game series ended in Cleveland's favor, but the wine and gold will get little time to recover before they journey north to see the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night. The Cavs have been a subpar defensive team, so scoring on them might not be hard.
Expectations for the Raptors have never been higher, which means the pressure is all on them. The Raptors must at least slow down the Cavs offense and contain LeBron James.