It’s déjà vu.
We saw this series last year in the Eastern Conference Finals, but this year we’re getting it a round early. The Cavs will once again host the Raptors hoping for a repeat of last year. The Raptors are coming in with a much-improved defense hoping for anything but that. Who will win the rematch?
The Case for the Cavaliers
After a rough end to the season, the Cavs are finally starting to trend in the right direction. The Cavs swept the Pacers in a first round series that was a lot more competitive than the sweep lets on. The series proved Cleveland is still good when they want to be, but also proved they’re as flawed as we expected. Their defense is still terrible, and Kyrie Irving is coming off probably his worst playoff series to date, but that can all be negated when you have The King. LeBron James willed the Cavs to all four wins versus Indy, and he did so effortlessly. James is looking as good as we’ve seen him in a Cleveland uniform and that spells disaster for Toronto.
The Case for the Raptors
The Raptors scared everybody in the first round. Toronto was expected to come in and handle a young Bucks team, but instead almost lost. They were able to roar back from being down 2-1, but the series exposed a lot about the Raptors, especially about their best players. The Raptors go as their backcourt does. If Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are on, the Raptors have a pretty good chance of beating whoever they play, but if one or both of them are having an off night, the Raptors are doomed. Lucky for the Raptors, DeRozan plays some of his best ball whenever Cleveland comes to town as he averaged nearly 30 against the Cavs during the season. The real question will be Lowry, and if he can overcome his playoff demons.
So who wins? WhyToby??
The Raptors are a much better team than they were last year, but they will be seeing a familiar ending. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but I’m rolling with the Cavaliers.
Regardless of the Raptors improvements, the Cavs are still head and shoulders above them. The Cavs have the best player in the world and the second best player in the series plus a gang of sharpshooters who make threes. The Cavs have too much firepower for the Raptors to match, especially considering Lowry’s playoff struggles. Combine that with a Cavalier defense that can flip the switch when needed to lock up opponents, and it’s not looking so good for the Raptors. I want to say they will win a game, but I feel like that’s a stretch too. Expect another competitive sweep for Cleveland.
Cavaliers in FOUR