Here are Cavs-Raptors series predictions from the Fear the Sword staff. Make sure to share yours below in the comments.
Chris Manning (@cwmwrites): Toronto, on paper, matches up better with Cleveland this year. Kyle Lowry is back, although he didn’t play consistently well in the Raptors’ round one win over the Bucks. But the Cavs come in rested, come in seemingly relaxed if Richard Jefferson’s Snapchat is to be trusted and weren’t threatened by the Raptors last year. I’ll say Cavs in six, but this certainly feels like this could get wrapped up in five.
Alex Ralston (@AIRalston): Much like the Masters, the Cavs beating the Raptors in the playoffs is one of spring's finest traditions. The Raptors upgraded their roster around the trade deadline, but did not close the talent gap enough to truly threaten the Cavaliers. I have a tough time seeing how Toronto will score enough points to keep up with the Cavs. Cavs in five.
Alex Raulli: I think the Raptors are a very good team with a deep, talented roster. But Lowry isn’t quite back on form after the injury to his shooting hand, and they just had a long, tough series against the Bucks. Meanwhile the Cavs are well-rested, healthy for maybe the first time this season, and have home court. Cavs in five.
Mike Mayer (@MikeMayer_): The Cavs showed some solid effort on defense in the first round, but the Pacers still put up a lot of points, and obviously Toronto has a better offense than Indiana did. I think the Raptors will pull out some of the close games that will inevitably occur. At the end of the day, though, they don’t have enough to overcome LeBron. Cavs in six.
Aaron Perine (@SumitLakeHornet): After a long layoff, it will be hard to tell what Cavaliers team we will see take the floor on Monday at The Q. There were some hairy moments against Indiana, but they had faith in the fact that they could out-talent the other team. Against Toronto, the process of refining their effort will be paramount. Raptors might pull one win out, but in the end, I believe the Cavs are still too much for them. Cavs in five.
Dylan Haines (@DHaines1): After tying the record for the closest sweep in NBA playoff history and hemorrhaging a ton of points to the Pacers despite increased effort on the defensive end, there are reasons for concern with this Cavs team after the first round. However, LeBron is playing out of his mind, Kyrie missed a ton of open shots in the first round (38.3 percent effective field goal percentage on open shots in this series compared to 56.2 percent on such shots in the regular season), and the Raptors didn’t look very good against the Bucks in the first round outside of DeMar DeRozan. Cavs in five.
Justin Rowan (@cavsanada): This series is going to come down to what version of each teams shows up. We saw last year what can happen when the Cavs show up, and when they don't. Both teams have struggled with inconsistency this season and have stars trying to find their form. Toronto has better defensive tools this year, but I don't trust them to be used properly. I think this will be a closer series than last year, but Cavs in 5.
Carter Rodriguez (@Carter_Shade): The Cavaliers present a lot of problems that the Raptors don’t really have the tools to answer. The team doesn’t really have anybody to throw at LeBron outside of PJ Tucker, who, at 6’5”, just doesn’t have the length to truly limit James. Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan will have a tasty matchup on offense (depending on who Kyrie happens to be hidden on), so they should be able to get theirs. That said, the Raptors have more than a few shaky shooters on this roster, and Tyronn Lue loves to ignore bad shooters in his game plan. I think this could go any number of games, but if the Cavaliers are focused? Cavs in four.
Michael Drapcho (@M_Drapcho21): The Cavaliers were still inconsistent in their first-round matchup with Indiana, but that did not matter because of the large talent gap between the teams. The Raptors are a more talented team than the Pacers, but the Cavs still have the edge in that category. If Cleveland can bring it more consistently than last series and can actually stay focused for a whole game, the Raptors should not give them too much trouble. The additions of P.J. Tucker and Serge Ibaka make Toronto better, but they aren’t enough to get the Raptors four wins over the Cavs. Cavs in six.
Scott Recker (@scottmrecker): Both teams have some lineup versatility — at least in playoff terms — which should make for some interesting rotation battles, but I think how this series swings comes down to two X-factor players: Kyle Lowry and Kevin Love. As long as there are no other shocking situations with the other players, I think these two finding a rhythm is a big deal for both teams. Can Lowry provide the bursts of scoring and keep Kyrie in check defensively? Can Love turn earn high percentage first quarter looks into him scoring inside and out, something we know he’s capable of, although we’ve been seeing it less than usual lately? Can he sort of stop the pick and roll? I think the answers to those questions result in Cavs in six, but subtract one if LeBron decides to go into NBA Jam mode and erase a heavy first half deficit again.