The Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers second-round series is becoming one of the most anticipated playoff matchups in recent memory.
The Cavs advanced to the NBA Finals, where they overcame a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series to beat the Warriors, 4-3, and claim the first title for a Cleveland professional sports team since the 1964 Browns. From Bojan Bogdanovic to Thaddeus Young to Lance Stephenson to even Trevor Booker, Indiana threw everything at James. The Raptors have been off since a Game 6 victory over Washington last Friday night finished their first-round series, while James and the Cavs were pushed to the limit in grinding out a Game 7 win over in on Sunday.
Perhaps this year will be different.
"Whenever we win, the city feels it, you know what I mean?" 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 biggest mismatch of the series tilts to New Orleans in the Davis versus multi-purpose Draymond Green. LeBron James will need more help than he's been receiving to advance past one of the NBA's deepest teams. Lowry also has a post-season high of 8.3 ASTS, having 3 more assists than a year ago in 83 less minutes. They are averaging 11 made 3s per game - the 3rd-highest figure among teams remaining in the bracket.
DeRozan bounced back to score 37 points in Game 3 at Air Canada Centre, but the Cavs still overwhelmed the Raptors, 115-94.
One of the game's greatest players, with the body of a Mack Truck, James has been virtually unstoppable against Toronto, averaging 30.9 points in their last 12 meetings. His postseason disappointment is in a lot of ways the result of a tough time closing out series - his Caps are 3-7 in game sevens.
The five players Lue had on this team for last year's Finals run - James, Love, Smith, Thompson (the four left from the 2016 championship team) and Korver - and a tested playoff vet in Hill.
"If y'all don't respect the Indiana Pacers now, I have no respect for you", Oladipo said. Actually, it's more a knock on James' teammates than him, with no Cavs player outside of James scoring at least 20 points once in the entire seven game series.
With their season on the line after a humbling 34-point loss in game six, the Cavaliers exploded out of the blocks.
Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals is by far the best forward - based on point shares through their age 32 season since 1987 - to have never once make a conference final. Seriously? And the core for the Raptors hasn't changed in those year, just like Cleveland. Back in the locker room, Cavaliers doctors wanted to administer an IV, James said, and he refused the treatment. "Today, it's just good to see us go out there and play free and execute the game plan and play with energy like we had the whole season". The 15-year veteran shredded the Pacers defense on his way to 45 points to carry his team to the next round of the National Basketball Association playoffs. The Raptors depth greatly outmatches the talent on the Cleveland Cavaliers roster.
Toronto has the home-court advantage this time after earning the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a regular-season record of 59-23.
Cleveland's second unit was a disappointment in the First Round.