Well… that was a rough welcome to the Eastern Conference Finals. After getting insulted by basically everyone in America, the Toronto Raptors didn’t really help their cause, getting blown out badly by the Cleveland Cavaliers in game 1 by a score of 115-84. Game 1s have never been kind to the Raptors, but this one was just flat out bad.
Where do we begin? The first quarter had the Raptors down 5, and by halftime they were down 22. If you don’t see where I’m getting at, the 2nd quarter was the period where this game was decided. The Cavs manhandled the Raptors, penetrating at ease, and throwing down numerous, thunderous slams.
LeBron James led the way with an efficient 24 points in 28 minutes. DeMarre Carroll was too slow, and not strong enough as the King bulldozed his way into the paint without any real resistance. We saw James Johnson try to impose his will on LeBron, but it didn’t exactly work out either. Through the entire game, LeBron missed one 3, and one contested layup, which he followed up with an offensive rebound and bucket.
Kyrie Irving also shredded the Raptors defense far too easily. Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph both did a poor job. Irving finished with 27 points on a cool 11-17 shooting.
This was so depressing to watch. Let’s just get to the report card:
Not good. The first quarter had the Raptors playing with confidence – moving the ball, hitting shots, attacking the paint. Then, it’s as if they were demoralized from the Cavs run. It was also clear that some serious fatigue was affecting the team.
Lowry struggled once again. It appears that there are two versions of Lowry this postseason, and this was certainly the bad one. Kyle had 8 points, and was 0-7 from three. He failed to take advantage of the weak defender in Kyrie Irving, and got severely outplayed. That simply cannot happen – Lowry can, and should be the better player. Maybe he should go shoot in the Quicken Loans at 1AM tonight.
DeMar DeRozan was the only real decent shot creator tonight. He scored 18 on 9-17 shooting, but struggled after the first quarter. Bismack Biyombo got some easy buckets inside, but only attempted and made 5 shots. The next leading scorer was James Johnson with 10 – that tells you all you need to know.
I appreciate the fact that the Cavs are an elite offensive team. But, I simply cannot accept the fact that they are that much better than the Raptors. They are not. The Raptors are a much more capable defensive team than they showed tonight.
The gameplan was obviously to contain the threeball. They did that to an extent – the Cavs hit 7 threes on 20 attempts; certainly not backbreaking. However, the amount of easy buckets met with no help defense was just painful to watch. The gameplan certainly needs to change. The Cavs are scary, but the Raptors can’t make their lives that easy.
The Raptors need to try and slow the pace of the game down, and respond to the runs this Cavaliers team will go on in a more timely fashion. Easier said than done, but as the Raptors have said many times, they are the number 2 seed for a reason
Holy cow. I didn’t realize the discrepancy on the glass until I looked at the box score. The Raps lost the boards battle 45-23 tonight. You read that right. Granted, the Cavs shot 55% and the Raptors shot 42%, making the Raps have less misses to work with, but still.
All the extra possessions the Cavs got certainly killed the Raptors. It’s not as if they are undersized. Bismack and Patrick Patterson combined for 6 boards. That is unacceptable.
Game Ball: Raptors
Screw LeBron and Kyrie. The Cavs played great basketball, but the Raptors deserve the game ball for making this one so damn easy for Cleveland. We can’t be too mad, because being here still feels surreal. The silver lining here is that the Raptors haven’t lost back to back playoff games yet. Let’s hope that trend continues.