ECF: Is Winter Coming for the Cavs?

Game 2

In much the same fashion as game 1, the Cavs routed the Raptors in front of their home fans. After winning game 1 by 31 points, the Cavs came back and smashed Toronto again. This time by 19, leading throughout and winning 108-89. This was the first time the Raptors had lost back to back games in the postseason after having battled it out with both Indiana and Miami.

The Cavs started this game off in the same fashion as Game 1 attacking the lane as Dwayne Casey had again made defending the 3 point line his top priority. JR Smith and LeBron James had dunks on 2 of their first 3 field goals and really set the tone early. The King added 6 assists in the first 7 minutes to get the Cavs off and rolling. The Cavs lived in the paint with a 28-12 scoring edge at the end of the half. LeBron led the way with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists and the Cavs closed the half on a 16-2 run while, controversially, Kyle Lowry was in the locker room “decompressing”.

The Cavs led 62-48 to start the second half and played well the rest of the way leading by double digits the remainder of the game.  After 2 games, the Cavs have led by double digits every minute of both second halves.
LeBron finished with a triple double: 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists and also moved into the Top Five of all time playoff scoring. Kyrie Irving added 26 points (while again giving Kyle Lowry fits on the defensive end) and Kevin Love dropped 19 while the Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan with 22 points.

Game 3

With the series going to Toronto, the onus was on the Raptors.  Could they turn things around back home? If so, it seems like they would need to really change the level of intensity and toughness shown in Games 1 and 2, and be much more physical defensively and on the glass. They would also need much better guard play from the All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.

The Raptors had exactly that happen with an All Star caliber performance from both Kyle Lowry and Corey Joseph at the point guard position. They combined to score 34 points, with 11 rebounds, and 6 assists while hounding Kyrie Irving into his worst playoff performance of his career scoring just 13 points on 3-19 shooting and only 1 assist.
While Irving and Kevin Love were suffering the worst games of their playoff careers, on the same night, LeBron James scored 24 points and JR Smith added 22. The problem was, other than that, no Cavs played very well.
Coach Lue may have some questions to answer as he seemingly allowed Kyrie to shoot and over dribble at will.  This lead to blown opportunities for the Cavs and when they did cut the lead to 5 late in the 3rd quarter. Where was LeBron in the post? “It happens; the ball doesn’t go in sometimes,” James said speaking of Love and Irving. “But we can’t lose confidence in those guys. They got us here and helped us get to this point.”

The Cavs came into Saturday night having scored at least 100 points in every playoff game, and that’s because they’ve been moving men and the ball very well. They have been shooting the 3 as a team to perfection throughout the playoffs, to go along with Kyrie’s stellar mid-range game.

But those long jumpers were clanging off the rim for most players in Saturday’s loss. That’s the main reason they scored only 84 points for the night, hitting rock bottom with a 14-point fourth quarter.

Bismack Biyombo put in an all time great playoff performance in Game 3.

Bismack Biyombo put in an all time great playoff performance in Game 3.

Now to talk about this game and not give due to the two best performances of the night and maybe this postseason, wouldn’t do justice to what we saw from Bismack Biyombo and DeMar DRozan. DeRozan was sensational on the offensive end scoring at will most of the night and eventually leading to the Cavs to putting James on him. He torched JR Smith and any other Cav who attempted to guard him, scoring 32 points. He was silky smooth and was dominating with his mid-range game.

Biyombo was reminiscent of Bill Russell in his heyday! This guy was all over the court defensively and hammered LeBron with a couple of old school playoff fouls. He had a couple of big dunks, and oh by the way; added 26 rebounds and 4 blocks!

Dwayne Casey had certainly changed his game plan defensively and took the paint away from the Cavs. The Raptors played with far more energy on the defensive end and with DeRozan, the PG play of Lowry and Joseph, and the Russell like effort of Biyombo, they were unbeatable by a Cavs team who looked a bit shell shocked.
Not to fret if you’re a Cavs fan as they will bounce back tonight and match the effort and intensity level of Toronto. Love and Irving will bounce back and I expect to see more of LeBron in the post.
Cavs will roll again and close this series in 5 as was predicted here.


Mike Calo

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