In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers trounced the Toronto Raptors by 31 points. It was the largest postseason win in Cavs history, but at the end of the day, it only counts for one win. To get back to the NBA Finals, they still need to beat the Raptors three more times. Their next opportunity will come Thursday night, as they look to grab a 2-0 lead before the series heads to Toronto.
Who: Raptors (0-1) at Cavs (1-0)
What: Eastern Conference Finals, Game 2
When: Thursday, 8:30 pm Eastern
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
What adjustments should the Raptors try to make in Game 2? Let's ask ESPN's Zach Lowe:
@jasoncappell Play a different opponent— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) May 18, 2016
In all seriousness, with the way the Cavs' offense has been humming, it's really a pick-your-poison decision for Toronto. They wanted to take away the Cavs' shooting in Game 1, and they were able to limit them to just 7-of-20 from three-point range. But the Cavs were able to get to the basket at-will, as they consistently beat their defenders in one-on-one situations. If the Raptors try to go utilize more double teams in Game 2, the Cavs could in theory go back to being the deadly three-point shooting team we saw in the first two rounds.
This team's versatility has been an underrated aspect of the roster David Griffin has assembled. When they are coached correctly and are playing like they're on the same page, they can score in any number of ways. Tyronn Lue can throw out a small lineup in which LeBron James is surrounded by shooters, or one that can destroy opponents with a number of pick-and-roll combinations, or one that can play a more traditional inside-outside game. For a team like the Raptors, shorthanded without Jonas Valanciunas, there's not much they can do to stop it.
But the Cavs must remain focussed. For as good as they have looked, they're just one bad night away from losing their homecourt advantage and being deadlocked in a 1-1 series. This is the conference finals after all, and nothing should be taken for granted.
For what it's worth, the Raptors lost Game 1 in each of their first two playoff series, but bounced back to win Game 2 both times.
LeBron, who certainly knows how to say the right things, seems to understand the moment. "I don't think we have complacency on our minds," he said after Game 1. "We have a goal and our goal is not nine wins," a reference to the Cavs' perfect 9-0 record to start the postseason.
We all know what that goal is. Nine wins in a row has been fun, but they need seven more. And before worrying about anything else, three of those seven have to come against the Raptors.