The Toronto Raptors have succumbed to the Cavs in the playoffs two years in a row. This week, they lost to the former champions yet again in the first two games of the second round.
They are no doubt fiercely determined to break their losing streak. It seemed more than possible leading up to Round 2. The Cavs barely scraped into the second round, enduring all seven games in the first round to get there.
Will the Raptors pull off a win?
With much relief fans witnessed Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and Jeff Green contributing spectacularly.
It was due largely to James for producing 45 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in the 43 minutes he played in Game 7 of the first round, that the team are still alive.
However, there’s a big question mark dangling over James’ energy levels, which he himself voiced after Game 7.
“I’m ready to go home. Can we? I’m tired. I want to go home.”
James averaged 41 minutes per game in the series, clocking up an average of 34.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists.
James’ Supporting Cast finally stepped up
His Cavs teammates during the first round were “unproven, unreliable or, at their worst, both”, as Steve Aschburner of NBA.com voiced.
But while the guys who arrived in February are still adjusting, James can evidently still rely on the men who’ve adapted themselves to his style of play.
Korver, 37 and accustomed to James in the 16 months he’s been a Cavalier, scored 19 and pressured Toronto by getting open over and over (17 shots) on Tuesday.
Smith demonstrated a knack for individual defense and long-ball accuracy.
Thompson had a resurgence. He extended possessions on the offensive end which ultimately wore down the Raptors.
Meanwhile Love, who had been less-than-impressive, has made significant improvements in the second round so far.
LeBron James has been quick to acknowledge the help he’s received.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) May 2, 2018
J.R. Smith was questionable leading up to the playoffs, making moves nobody understood. But he has thus far successfully carried out his one job to defend the best perimeter player. He was verbal in his support of James.
“We’ve just got to keep chipping in as much as we can. He can’t play Superman every night.”
Kyle Korver echoed his sentiments.
“LeBron has the ball and we play off of him… We’ve got to help him out, right? He plays a ton of minutes, he’s carrying a big load. But this is how we play. It’s not gonna change.”
Fans have been made aware of the fact that there was no special pep talk to spur on James’ supporting cast. They simply knew what they had to do. And it’s this intuition that may very well push the Cavs through to the NBA Finals.
by Yvonne Hew – contributor