Tonight, the Toronto Raptors are out in Cleveland looking for revenge against the Cavaliers. Tuesday night, the Raps lost to the Cavs 115-84 in game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Kyle Lowry disappeared and the bench was not present in game 1. However, DeMar DeRozan was still able to score 18 points and dish out 5 assists on an efficient 9/17 shooting but wasn’t aggressive enough to give The Land a headache.
The bench also came up empty handed and as an optimist, I find comfort in knowing that the boys from the Six have lost every game 1 and have still come this far. Let’s take a look at Cage’s keys to the game.
The most pressing issue in my opinion is the effort on rebounding. The biggest struggle this Toronto squad has with the Cavs is on the battle of the boards. They lost the rebounding edge to Cleveland in every game this season and were absolutely manhandled on Tuesday, getting out rebounded 45-23. Cleveland pulled down 22 more boards than the Raps and that cannot happen again if Toronto wants to pull off the W tonight.
Play with Aggression
The determination was clearly not present in game 1. That has to change in game 2. It starts with Lowry and DeRozan but we need Cory Joseph and Terrence Ross to bring intensity on both ends of the court. The starters set the tone of the game and the bench players must maintain this same tone. If there is no energy from the starters or the bench, the game will be lost before it even starts.
Contain at least 2/3s of the Big 3
It isn’t an easy task to stop LeBron James. However, the Raptors have players capable of shutting down Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Love as it is, shoots an underwhelming 37 per cent from the field. Take advantage of the inefficiency by Love and strategically slow down Irving. This will upset LeBron as he won’t entrust in his teammates.
X-Factor: DeMarre Carroll
This is the reason DeMarre Carroll was brought in last off season. He’s known as a “3 and D” guy and he didn’t fulfill his duties, letting LeBron go for 24, 6 boards and 4 assists on 11/13 shooting. Take LeBron off his game and the Cavs won’t be able to retaliate without their leader.