Friday, 22 June, 2018

OG Anunoby gives Raptors real hope to contain LeBron James

Cavs head into Game 7 with season franchise on the line Cavs head into Game 7 with season franchise on the line
Domingo Copeland | 02 May, 2018, 01:53

The 15-year veteran shredded the Pacers defense on his way to 45 points to carry his team to the next round of the National Basketball Association playoffs. Can we? I'm exhausted. Meanwhile, the Cavs had their hands full with the Indiana Pacers and needed a four-point win in game seven to narrowly escape the first round. However, the Raptors will need to find a way to contain James, who has led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in each of the past three years, and scored 44 or more points on three occasions during Cleveland's seven-game victory over the Indiana Pacers in the first round.

While Cleveland had to go the distance to escape the first round, Toronto managed to put things away in Game 6, becoming the first road team to earn a win in the series. Last season, the Raptors acquired Ibaka and P.J. Tucker in mid-season in part so that James wouldn't be able to score quite so easily in the interior.

And if there's a season the Cavaliers look vulnerable, it's this one. "The head of the snake is DeMar (DeRozan) and Kyle (Lowry)".

However, injuries beguiled the Celtics with Hayward being lost in the first game of the season courtesy of a gruesome leg snap and then Irving ended his year with a left knee procedure as the regular season drew to a close. Against the Pacers, he averaged 34.4 points, 10 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game.

The Toronto Raptors sat atop the Eastern Conference standings most of the season yet few have believed in them to finally get over the hump.

The Raptors are significantly better on offense than the Indiana Pacers. Actually, it's more a knock on James' teammates than him, with no Cavs player outside of James scoring at least 20 points once in the entire seven game series. "He's been through too many of these and he's professional enough to know how to buy time or save energy or whatever it is. They're a more well-balanced team this year, and they showed it in their record, in their ability to win games, and they showed why they're the No. 1 team in the East".

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On Tuesday, as he prepared to open the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Cavaliers star didn't lie when asked about how he felt.

For Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, the 3:35 stretch was vital. This year though no one seem capable to help take the pressure off him.

Indeed, this was one of the most inspiring runs in recent memory as a team pegged for just one nationally televised game before the season began almost robbed the King of the basketball world of another opportunity to keep his NBA Finals streak alive.

Can you tire him out? But Toronto's second unit was even better - finishing fourth overall at 41.8 ppg (first in the league after January 1 at 44.3). Cleveland needed seven games - and several fortuitous calls - to eliminate IN and advance to the second round against the Raptors. The Cleveland Cavaliers have swatted them from the playoffs in each of the last two postseasons. Cleveland won the regular season series 2-1, but Toronto is favored (-205) to win this series. DeRozan is putting up 26.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per matchup.

He added: "Kevin Love has not been the level of player you would hoped he would be but has hadn't been a huge liability the way he was in round one".

George Hill, who missed the previous three games, was big off the bench in Game 7 - netting 11 points, going 9-for-11 from the floor in the second stanza of Cleveland's four-point victory.

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