Jared– Finally. It’s what everything’s been building up to. With an incredibly tired Cavs team on short rest sporting a very, very flawed roster with few contributors, if the Raptors are ever going to beat the Cavs, it has to be now. Kevin Love, who killed the Raps in the last two showings against them, will be huge in this one. I think that it will go right down to the wire, but I’ll only believe LeBron can lose in the Eastern Conference playoffs when I see it. These next two weeks are going to be exciting. Cavaliers in 7
Wayne – As much as I’d love to say that I think Toronto will comeback and beat Cleveland, what LeBron James is doing right now is undeniably great, and his supporting cast woke up a bit on Monday. Unfortunately for Cleveland, they are coming off the heels of a long 7 game series against Indiana, where LeBron was asked to do nearly everything for the Cavs. The fact that James carried the Cavs the way he did in the 1st round is already ridiculous, and he closed out the series looking exhausted by game 7. Factor in that the Raptors are a superior and much deeper team than the Pacers, and it looks very unlikely that LBJ will be able to repeat his first-round results. The Raptors will have to throw the kitchen sink at LeBron, but Toronto has the defensive pieces to, at the least on paper, tire LeBron out on the offensive end. LeBron James is one of the greatest players of all time, and there is no way he’ll go down without a fight, but one player can only take you so far. Raptors in 6.
Myles – The Raptors’ best shot at beating LeBron is letting LeBron beat them. This isn’t news; it’s what the Pacers executed to great success – and it’s also what was ultimately their downfall, when they let the Cavaliers’ bench win a key fourth-quarter stretch without James in Game 7. Despite a bit of a spark in game 1, for the most part, Cavs’ shooters are cold right now. Love is dealing with torn ligaments in his shooting thumb, Korver and Smith have been inconsistent and Hood and Clarkson have been consistently bad. The Raptors need to stay home on shooters and play to their greatest defensive strength: limiting three-point attempts. The series will flip if the Raptors lose trust in their system and fall back to old habits on both ends. Obviously, it’s impossible to know if that will happen. And even though it’s their best strategy, “let LeBron beat you” is scary as hell. Cavaliers in 6
Kahfeel – This is the year the King’s seven year reign over the east comes to an end. The Raptors are a complete team and with Fred Vanvleet back they’re just starting to live up to their regular season potential. This series shouldn’t feel like Derozan and Lowry against LeBron James like it did for the past couple years. With the Raptors depth and the Cavaliers lack of, it’ll probably be the opposite. The games will depend on which role players step up and help the stars. Based on that premise I’m going with the Raptors. The Cavaliers have been a one man band for most of the season and even with the trades and playoffs coming around it hasn’t changed. LeBron isn’t superhuman and he’s been beat in the east before. At some point he’ll have a bad series or fatigue will kick in. The Raptors are in the perfect position to exploit all of these things. All they have to do is not crumble under the pressure of playing against LeBron. Raptors in 7.