#2 Toronto Raptors vs. #1 Cleveland Cavaliers, Series tied 0-0 (8:30pm ET Tuesday, ESPN)
The Raptors earned their first trip to the conference finals by defeating the Miami Heat in a grueling series that included three overtimes, with only the last game decided by more than 12 points, as they breezed past Miami 116-89. Toronto went into the fourth quarter with an 8-point lead, and promptly went on an 11-2 run that made it 97-80 with 9 minutes to play. At that point it was over.
Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan came up big in the finale, scoring 35 and 28 respectively, combining for 50+ for the third straight game. Lowry added 7 boards, 9 dimes and 4 blocks, and Bismack Boyimbo had a big game posting 16-17.
Of the 12 series played during this postseason, only three have gone the full seven games, and of those three, the Toronto Raptors have played in two of them. There have also been just three sweeps in these playoffs, and of those three, the Cleveland Cavaliers were on the right side of two of them. The Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and DeMarre Carroll have played a total of 1,511 minutes. The Cavs’ LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have played 875 – who do you think’s gonna have fresher legs?
The Cavs appear to be playing their best ball of the season right now, having defeated Hawks and Pistons 8 times by an average of 10.5 ppg, and it’s worth noting once again that when the Cavaliers have James, Irving and Love playing together, they are 12-0 in the playoffs going back to last year.
It’s worth noting, however, that the Raptors took two out of three from the Cavs this season, though one of those wins came when Cleveland was without the services of Kyrie Irving, and victories were by a total of 5 points, while the Cavs trounced the Raptors by 22 in their other meeting.