The Cavs faced plenty of doubt throughout this season. From their poor defense (ranked 23rd in the league in defensive efficiency this season) to their lack of chemistry with new acquisitions of Kyle Korver and Deron Williams, a lot of factors were against Cleveland. They got their top seed stolen by the Boston Celtics to boot.
All of this seems like a distant memory now with the Cavs sweeping the Pacers in a more competitive series than one would think (including an open game winner botched by C.J. Miles). Paul George fought, and some games came down to the wire, but it’s business as usual for LeBron. It might be another another easy trek to the finals for The King.
In the second round the Cavs will either play the Toronto Raptors or the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s interesting to think who would be a tougher opponent Cleveland? Let’s ask twitter:
Who would be a tougher opponent for the Cavs in the second round? Let me know why as well. Column to come shortly.
— Swiss Cheese D (@NBASwissCheeseD) April 23, 2017
The Raptors and Cavs have history in the playoffs. Last year in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Raptors pushed the Cavs to 6 games before LeBron remembered he’s the best basketball player in the world and finished them off.
Still, the Raptors have a deeper roster this year after acquiring Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker during the trade deadline. Their depth can prove to give the Cavs trouble. Kyle Lowry is a pit bull on defense and will hound Kyrie Irving all series, while DeMar DeRozan will be guarded by J.R. Smith.
@NBASwissCheeseD The freak is a match up nightmare
— Harry Gonzalez (@HarryGo74878018) April 23, 2017
Harry, you might be onto something.
You can dissect matchups as much as you want, but at the end of the day, LeBron is the be all and end all for the Cavs. When factoring in raw athleticism, Giannis Antetokounmpo matches up with LeBron perfectly, and the Greek Freak has given LeBron trouble in the regular season.
For the first time in LeBron’s career, it looked as if the most physically devastating player on the floor was someone other than himself.
You can argue that the Raptors have good defenders that they can throw on LeBron, like DeMarre Carroll, DeMar Derozan and P.J. Tucker, but LeBron doesn’t need to score in order to make a difference.
No matter what, you have to give up something on the defensive end when guarding LeBron. If you take away LeBron’s scoring, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver etc. will go off through LeBron setting them up.
Your only chance at slowing the Cavs down is by exhausting LeBron on the defensive end, and there’s no one on the Raptors who can do that. LeBron will be forced to guard Giannis if the Bucks make it that far, and that alone makes the Bucks a bigger threat than the Raptors.
One of my followers made me realize that this column is meaningless though.
@NBASwissCheeseD Neither. The East is pathetic and GS/CLE is a foregone conclusion again.
— Ari M. Eden (@AriMEden) April 23, 2017