Cleveland Cavaliers VS Toronto Raptors – NBA Playoffs Second Round
NBA Fans turn out very lucky this year. We get to experience a conference finals rematch from last year except this year it is in the second round. It is already a forgone conclusion that this will be the matchup in the Eastern Conference you want to keep your eyes on. The Cavaliers swept the Indiana Pacers in the first round so they will be more rested than the Raptors who had to fight a little harder. Never the less, Toronto I’m sure still has their loss to the Cavs from last year’s playoffs fresh in their memory. This means that regardless of the winner, we will have a hard-fought match. I’m sure most people will be placing their bets on this one, so here is my take and why you should agree with me.
The Raptors for the past four years have made the NBA Post Season. Each year under the coaching of Dwayne Casey, they have increased their win percentage on the season. However, it always seems like no matter who they play in the playoffs, the Raptors always seem to have a tough time. The level of play that their all-stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry show case is always lower than expected. I’m not saying this will be the case in 2017 but it’s something we need to keep in mind when predicting the outcome of this series with the Cavaliers. Another thing we need to understand is they made it to the Conference finals against the Cavs last year. Regardless of their iffy playoff run and bad shooting percentage they could make it there as a team.
Now let’s talk about the Cavaliers. The first two season since LeBron has returned to Cleveland in 2015 and 2016, the Cavaliers have held the number 1 seed in the Eastern conference. This year in 2017 they possess the 2nd seed in the East. Many would like to say this means they are not as good as last year but I beg to differ. LeBron at age 32 needs to rest more and more as the seasons go by and as his career comes closer and closer to an end his motivation for championships can only go up. You best believe that he will do whatever it takes to preserve his body, his energy and his team mates for the post season. I would think that most people would still agree with me that the Cavaliers are the favorites in the Eastern Conference and some may even still consider them favorites in the whole league.
If you can’t already tell, I’m easily choosing the Cavaliers to win this matchup against the Raptors in 5 games. Despite a below par win percentage from LeBron with the Cavs sitting at 51 wins and 31 losses, he still had an above average year with 26.4 points per game, 8.6 rebounds per game and 8.7 assist per game. Not only this but he is most likely in the top 3 or 4 for Most Valuable Player selections. Nobody can deny this. The Raptors struggled with the Bucks in the first round in a series that most people thought would be over in 4 or 5 games. Not only are they going to be more tired than the Cavaliers but they are going to have to mentally fight through the fact that they already have lost to this team in the playoffs last year. I would say that Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have played better than last year in the playoffs but they have still failed to raise their level of play or even maintain it from the regular season. People will say that the playoffs are a place for NBA superstars and this is a prime example of that.
I will give 1 game to the Raptors on their home floor where DeRozan might go off for 40, Kyle Lowry starts hitting deep threes or Serge Ibaka is blocking shots out of the gym but that is the best that I think they can reasonably hope for in this series. The Cavs are well rested, coming off a championship year and LeBron publicly states to the media after sweeping Indiana in the first round that he is feeling better than ever and could play a full 48 minutes in a game if asked to do so. Not only should this worry the Raptors but it should also worry whoever they meet in the Eastern Conference finals.
By this point I’m sure that most of you agree with me that Cleveland will win the series and win it fast. I think most of you probably thought that before even reading this. However, for you Toronto Raptors believers, I would have to tell you that I’m not against the Raptors. I still believe they either need DeRozan or Lowry to be dropping 30 points each a game to make this a competitive series and that might be too much to ask. Kyle Lowry is a great point guard but he’s not a top five point guard and in today’s league you might need that to win a championship. DeMar DeRozan might be a top five Shoot Guard but he is still not in his prime yet and may still need more playoff experience before taking the next step and beating LeBron.