The Cavaliers got through the first two rounds of these playoffs without losing a game. Last week we wrote about LeBron’s early round dominance so this wasn’t too much of a surprise. However, they face a much more formidable opponent in the conference finals in the second seeded Toronto Raptors, who won 2 out of their 3 matchups in the regular season. Can the Raptors prevent LeBron from reaching a sixth consecutive NBA Finals?
Cleveland hasn’t had many surprises this season. They have LeBron and they shoot a bunch of threes. When those threes go in they’re the best team in the NBA. When they don’t, they can be beat. So far in the playoffs they’ve hit 46% of their threes and have yet to lose a game. That’s where the Raptors focus has to be. Stopping the Cleveland three ball.
Raptors are probably happy just to be here. Although they had a great regular season, they lost their first playoff game and it looked their playoff struggles would continue. But they persevered and are now in their first conference finals in franchise history. If they’re going to win though, they’ll need much more out of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan than they’ve got so far in this postseason. Jonas Valanciunas is still out and no one knows if he’ll even be able to play in this series. Toronto really has their work cut out for them.
Key Matchup: LeBron James vs. DeMarre Carroll
When your team is in the Eastern Conference and you bring in a 6’8″, 210 lb small forward, you’re probably hoping he can guard LeBron. Carroll will need to find some way to slow him down for the Raptors to win.
The Pick: Cleveland in 5
I think the Raptors could give the Cavs some trouble. By that I mean that I think they could win a game and scare them in another. Cleveland has too many shooters around LeBron. They’re almost impossible to defend.