The Cleveland Cavaliers stole Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup against the Toronto Raptors with a 113-112 overtime win. They have now beaten the Raptors in seven consecutive playoff games, and will be looking for their eighth straight win in Game 2 on Thursday night.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors, Game 2
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Enemy Blog: Raptors HQ
Online: Watch ESPN
Cavs injuries: None to report
Raptors injuries: None to report
Three keys to the game:
- LeBron James wasn’t even truly Playoff LeBron during Game 1, and he still put up a triple-double against the Raptors with 26 points (on 12-of-30 shooting), 13 assists and 11 rebounds. He hit the shot to send things into overtime after not leading for the entire game. Even though he wasn’t playing up to his own high standards, he still dominated Toronto. If he gets into the same shooting rhythm that he had against the Pacers, when he shot .553 from the floor, Toronto has no one on defense that will be able to stop him.
- Obviously making life difficult for DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry is the top priority for the Cavs defensively. Concerning Lowry, the Cavs had success in using size against him for a large portion of Game 1. With James guarding him for 20 possessions (the second most on the team behind George Hill) and Jeff Green guarding him for five, Lowry put up just two points. If the Cavs can get those kind of matchups again, it should keep Lowry from getting into a rhythm.
- Kevin Love made just 3 of his 13 shots in Game 1, but realistically, using him at the five for spacing only works if he is hitting. In Game 1, Jonas Valanciunas was still able to hang around near the key to help on James because of Love’s offensive ineffectiveness. The saving grace is that Love once again had a decent fourth quarter, and the fact that during the regular season he averaged a double-double against Toronto of 17 points and 12 boards. If Love can’t get into a rhythm offensively, however, the Cavs may be better off sticking him at his natural power forward position.
Valanciunas killed the Cavs in the paint and on the glass in Game 1, putting up 21 points and pulling down 21 boards. Against Love specifically, Valanciunas put up 11 points in 24 possessions. Surprisingly, Lue has already confirmed his Game 2 starting lineup, and he is sticking with Love at the five. Love holding his own against Valanciunas and at least making an attempt to challenge him in the paint will pay off dividends until Tristan Thompson can come in and take over.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
The Raptors remain flummoxed by Game 1, and LeBron is back to putting up his usual points. Cavs 105, Raptors 99.