Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals did not go according to plan for the Toronto Raptors. They were defeated 116-105 by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and even that score doesn’t completely represent how one sided the game was. If you can figure out what happened, let Toronto head coach Dwane Casey know.
You might get a nice dinner out of it.
"When you figure out that Game 1 thing, I'll buy you a steak dinner….we play better with our backs against the wall." – Dwane Casey
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) May 3, 2017
He’s not entirely wrong. Through three games in the team’s opening round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, things certainly didn’t look good for the Raptors. They only trailed 2-1, but were blown out in both losses and won a relatively close Game 2. Toronto came back to win the next two games convincingly before wrapping it up in a close Game 6.
But while they may not be as sharp as they were a season ago, the Cavaliers are a different animal.
Cleveland is the defending champion, after all. Additionally, LeBron James led teams have made six straight NBA Finals. Granted, a season ago, the Raptors gave the Cavs a decent fight in the Eastern Conference finals, pushing the series to six games. But all four of Cleveland’s wins in that series were by 19 or more, and they crushed the Raptors by the score of 115-84 in Game 1 of that series.
Falling too far behind isn’t well advised if Toronto has any plans on winning the one.
While it’s far easier said than done, the key will be containing LeBron and Kyrie Irving, who both posted double-doubles in Game 1. James went for 35 points and 10 rebounds, while Irving had 24 points and 10 assists. One of those two will likely be the best player on the court in every game. That will be tough enough for the Raptors to overcome.
If James and Irving continue to be the two best players on the floor, Cleveland will be scouting the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards in short order.