Views From the Land: Cavs in 4

Cleveland Cavaliers will host the Toronto Raptors for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday. Here are my thoughts going into Game 1:

  1. Finally, a game, after more than a week of waiting. The Cavs have swept their first two opponents, and the Raptors are coming off of two seven games series — first vs. the Indiana Pacers , then against the Miami Heat.
  2. The Cavs are the first team to open the playoffs 8–0 since the 2012 San Antonio Spurs. They also became the first team to make at least 15 or more threes in four consecutive games in the four game sweep of the Atlanta Hawks.
  3. LeBron James will continue to need Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to be on their best behavior. Last year, Irving and Love were forced out of the action with injuries. Now, the two are healthy and looking for their second straight trip to the NBA Finals. Irving is averaging 24.4 points, 5.5 assists and shooting an amazing 53.8 percent from the 3-point line. Love is averaging 18.9 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 34 minutes. He is shooting a remarkable 44.4 percent from deep.
  4. Per, the Cavs’ Big Three are scoring an average of 63.0 points during the 26.9 minutes they share the court.
  5. Cavs are red-shot from the 3-point line. Like i mentioned earlier, the Cavs became the first team to make 15 or more threes in four consecutive games. They are leading all playoff team in attempts (36.3), three-pointers made (16.8) and percentage (46.2). They have four players shooting 50 percent or higher: Channing Frye, Irving, Richard Jefferson and J.R Smith. Iman Shumpert and Love are shooting 44 percent or higher. They made an NBA-record 25 three-pointers in Game 2 against the Hawks.
  6. On the other hand, the Raptors are averaging 6.6 threes made per game in the post-season. Their two stars, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, are inefficient and bad shooters. They can hurt you with their drives, but they are not threat shooting the ball. The struggles of Lowry and DeRozan have been well documented.
  7. Jonas Valanciunas is out for Game 1 and he will most likely miss Game 2 as well, according to Coach Dwane Casey. He is a big presence inside and scores efficiently. He was averaging 15 points and 12.1 rebounds. He would make it tough for the Cavs to play their small-ball lineup with Frye and Love up front. But with him out, the Cavs can throw multiple lineups at the Raptors and dominate.
  8. Tristan Thompson will have to continue to rebound. Bismack Biyombo is not a scoring big man , but he is athletic and plays with lots of energy. He is averaging 8.9 rebounds in 22 mins this postseason. Thompson will have to put a body on him and keep him out of the glass.

I expect the Raptors to be physical and stay in front of the Cavs’ shooters. I expect Lowry and DeRozan to be a bit more efficient than they did against the Heat. At the end of the day, the Cavs will be too much. They still have the 6'8 270 guy. And he is pretty good when he wants to be.

Cavs in 4.