TORONTO- The Cleveland Cavaliers barely won the series against the Indiana Pacers. The Cavs need to learn from the first round and apply everything they found out to the next series against the Toronto Raptors. Cleveland usually matches up against Toronto better than they do against Indiana. However, things can change in the playoffs as teams often perform at a better level.
The Raptors are significantly better on offense than the Indiana Pacers. Toronto averaged 111.5 points per game in the regular season compared to Indiana’s average of 105.2. Toronto averaged 109.1 points per game against the Wizards in round one. The Raptors are one of the top offensive juggernauts in the NBA. If the Raptors continue their hot shooting, this series could be short in Toronto’s favor.
The Cavs are up against a better group of shooters that can decimate any defense in the NBA. One notable problem from the Cavs series against the Pacers was the inability to close out on shooters. Cleveland actually closed out better against the Pacers in game 7 preventing most open shots, which is a trend that must continue. Defense will be the biggest key for the Cavs in this series.
Cavs Head Coach Tyronn Lue needs to start Tristan Thompson. He provides a defensive spark for Cleveland. Kevin Love needs to consistently hit three pointers. Love made key baskets in the fourth quarter of game seven but he needs to do that the entire series against Toronto.
Toronto should do what they can to prevent the Cavs from scoring a lot of points. Defensive efficiency is a must for Toronto. The Raptors must at least slow down the Cavs offense and contain LeBron James. He showed excellent jump shooting at times as he made baskets over Indiana defenders.
There were times where the Pacers shut down James and the Raptors need to double-team him. The Pacers provided a blueprint for the Raptors to follow. Cleveland averaged 109.6 points per game in the regular season. The Cavs averaged 94.8 points per game against Indiana during the first round series.
The Raptors defense will not be able to contain the Cavs offense. Toronto will score many points against Cleveland but expect the Cavs defense to be sharp with Thompson on the floor.
The Cavs will defeat the Raptors 4-2 in this series.