- The Raptors face a virtual must-win after their Game 1 collapse
- The Cavaliers’ role players look to deliver again
- LeBron James seeks a dominant performance in Game 2
After a gritty overtime win in their Eastern Conference semi-final opener, the Cleveland Cavaliers will try to put the top-seeded Toronto Raptors in the pressure cooker in a crucial Game 2 Thursday.
Cleveland took Toronto’s best punch in Game 1, but were able to withstand the onslaught, even with a sub-par performance – by his standards, anyways – from LeBron James, who missed 17 of his 20 shots after halftime.
Instead, they were buoyed by some spectacular play from a trio of veterans: Kyle Korver, who chipped in 19 points, JR Smith, the first non-LeBron Cav to break the 20-point scoring barrier in these playoffs, and Jeff Green, who helped carry the Cavaliers when things looked bleak in the second quarter.
The Cavs were powered by a second stellar outing in a row from Tristan Thompson, who was riding pine for most of the Indiana series. He’s found the form that made him such a key cog of the Cavaliers’ playoff runs the last three years, and he made his impact on this game on both ends of the court.
For the Raptors, it was the biggest Dino that was putting in work, as Jonas Valanciunas was a nearly unstoppable force in recording the first 20-20 playoff game in the franchise’s history.
Valanciunas did much of his damage in the third quarter, but did look tired and slowed in the fourth, going just 1-for-7 (including a missed putback with just a few ticks on the clock in regulation for the win), a stretch where Thompson was his primary defender.
The Cavaliers made enough shots and stops to escape with a 1-0 series lead, leaving the Raptors in a familiar position: in desperate need of a win, before this gets to situation critical.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Toronto Raptors Team Playoff Stats
|35.3||Points In The Paint||37.3|
|May 1 – Playoff||TOR||113-112 (OT)||CLE|
|April 3 – Regular Season||CLE||112-106||CLE|
|March 21 – Regular Season||CLE||132-129||CLE|
|Jan. 11 – Regular Season||TOR||133-99||TOR|
Notable Injuries and Absences
|No injuries||No injuries|
Straight Up Advice: Raptors (121-108)
Toronto spent all season building a culture that was supposed to finally overcome their nemesis James. But a team that went 30-1 all year when leading into the fourth quarter fumbled to a paltry 5-for-25 final period performance (20%) to find itself in overtime, and eventually a loss.
After shooting a sparkling 41% from three-point range against Washington, the Raptors only mustered 32.9% in Game 1. On the other side, the Cavaliers seemed to awaken from their three-point malaise that nearly cost them against Indiana. They shot just 32% in that series, but they upped their mark to over 40%, and outscored the Raptors from that range by 15 points.
After shooting 41% from three-point range against Washington, the Raptors only mustered 32.9% in Game 1 [against Cleveland].
The All-Star duo of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined for 40 points, ten rebounds and 15 assists in Game 1, but failed to control the game. More often than not, they looked unsure of what shot they really wanted, particularly in crunch time. The numbers look good, but they’ll need to be closer to 50 points combined to put real pressure on the Cavs.
Cleveland can get better too, and it starts with James, who still managed a triple-double and some clutch buckets down the stretch, but his 40% shooting from the field was the lowest these playoffs.
Kevin Love should also improve from his poor showing. He went just 3-for-13 from the field for 7 points – not exactly All-Star numbers.
There’s a reason Toronto won 59 games and led the East – they’re legit good. They should show that in a big way in Game 2. Cleveland takes its medicine, but leaves with the split they wanted.
|Cleveland is 23-22 SU on the road||Toronto is 37-8 SU at home|
|Cleveland is 5-3 SU in playoffs||Toronto is 4-3 SU in playoffs|
|Cleveland is 12-9 SU as an underdog||Toronto is 56-18 SU as a favorite|
|Cleveland is 23-32-0 ATS after a win||Toronto is 14-11-0 ATS after a loss|
|Cleveland is 33-56-1 ATS this season (57.0%)||Toronto is 47-41-1 ATS this season (53.4%)|
|Cleveland is 20-25-0 ATS on the road||Toronto is 24-20-1 ATS at home|
Additional SU Picks (May 3rd)
The other Eastern Conference semi-final resumes as well, with the Philadelphia 76ers trying to bounce back after a Game 1 beatdown in Beantown against the Celtics. They’ll try to even things up before heading back to Philly.
|76ers vs Celtics – Game 2||76ers|