The Cavaliers absolutely wrecked the Raptors in Game 2, hitting their first eight threes and blowing the game open in the third quarter en route to a 125-103 win. Any moves Dwane Casey made were ultimately rendered useless, and the Cavaliers are clearly on another level in terms of personnel. Let’s take a look at what we learned.
The cavalry is not coming for Toronto
William Lou certainly put it better than I could, so please, read. (Warning: It’s kind of depressing.)
Dwane Casey jettisoned DeMarre Caroll and Jonas Valanciunas to the bench in favor of Norman Powell and Patrick Patterson. This was a smart and useful move, and it didn’t matter. The Raptors actually defended much better in the first half, but the Cavaliers shot-making rendered their crisper rotations completely moot. By the third quarter, the Cavaliers destroyed the dam and they went off for 37 points to blow the game open.
Jonas Valanciunas responded to his benching by putting up 23 points on 10-13 shooting and still was exploited so badly defensively that he was a -13 in his 20 minutes.
The Raptors traded for smart, versatile defenders like Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker and it’s just not enough against this team. It’s easy to criticize Dwane Casey or the Raptors offensive structure, but there’s no magic elixir or ace in his sleeve to play. The Cavaliers are simply better, more talented, and there’s little Toronto can do other than hope the team goes cold shooting the basketball.
The Cavaliers have really stepped it up on the defensive end
This is the team that regularly allowed Indiana to have first-half offensive ratings in the 120s. No more, as they’ve blitzed Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan in the pick and roll to oblivion and their guards are playing the most disciplined defense we’ve seen from them in a long time. DeMar DeRozan averaged 8.7 free throw attempts per game this season and he’s only been to the line eight times in this series so far.
Kyle Lowry is scoring points and finding open shooters, but it’s not felt devastating thus far. The Raptors secondary playmakers haven’t been good enough, and the team just doesn’t have enough great shooters to make the Cavaliers pay.
Ty Lue is a hell of a playoff game-planner, even with limited defensive personnel. He’s showing his chops in this series.
LeBron is playing about as well as you’ll see him play
Well, other than in Games 5, 6 and 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, that is. James is putting on a master class in these playoffs. In six games, James is averaging 34.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.3 assists on 56.6 percent shooting from the field and 48.4 percent shooting from three on 5.2 attempts per game.
Um, what? It’s been so insane that I don’t even when about the free throw shooting anymore (I still kind of want to though.) James is lining up dominos all over the court and knocking them down with perfect precision. Nobody in the East stands a remote chance if he’s playing like this, even if the rest of the supporting cast drops off.