Game two is in the books as the Cleveland Cavaliers took a commanding 2-0 lead over the Toronto Raptors. Here are some takeaways from that game!
LeBron James got to do whatever he wanted
Whether he wanted to drive the lane and finish at the basket, or take a nearly impossible fadeaway, or just dish it out to get his teammates involved, he was able to do it all. The Toronto Raptors had no answer for the King as he dominated. There were moments in the second half when he was scoring effortlessly and appeared as though he was coasting. His performance completely took the life out of Toronto as they appeared to have given up (more on this later), and the Air Canada Centre fell silent. On this night, he finished with 43 points, 14 assists and 8 rebounds. Unlike the Pacers series, LeBron scored 43 points because he was in a position to do so, not out of necessity. It was a spectacular performance. So much so that Toronto got renamed to LeBronto.
The Air Canada Centre has (rightfully) built a reputation of being one of the most electric and intimidating arenas in the NBA. This is largely because of the fans. However, once the Cavaliers took over the game the ACC became somber. All of that energy in the first half was completely nonexistent halfway through the third quarter. It’s important to note that it’s not the fans fault. Instead, the Raptors seemed completely unengaged and defeated. It’s as though they realized they had no hope of winning this game and they packed it in.
Cavaliers role players stepped up
Kevin Love is proving that he is an All-Star having scored 31 points and grabbing 11 boards. He struggled mightily against the Pacers but now that seems to be a distant memory. He’s played the centre position so far in this series and it seems to be paying off for the Cavaliers. Jr Smith contributed 15 points, Jeff Green scored 14 and George Hill added 13 of his own. The Cavaliers team we saw tonight is completely different from the team we saw play against Indiana a week ago. What a difference a week makes.
There was a misconception among fans and analysts going into this series. Many assumed that because the Cavaliers struggled against the Pacers, they would against the Raptors as well. The problem with that is it dismisses the larger point: Match-ups matter in basketball. The Raptors aren’t constructed like that Pacers team. As I mentioned in the game one recap, the Pacers are a bigger, more physical and defensive oriented team. They also had a strategy: Bother the Cavaliers role players and force LeBron to carry the load. That’s why he was scoring 40+ and had to carry the team in order for them to win games. Those same role players that were struggling (Green, Korver, Smith) have stepped up against the Raptors. That’s no coincidence. The Cavaliers look unfazed in comparison to how they looked against the Pacers.
I predicted the Cavaliers would win in 6 games, but I’m scared that Skip Bayless might be right about the Raptors getting swept.