NBA Eastern Conference Finals Preview
The NBA Playoffs have come down to four teams. In the Eastern Conference Finals, it will be the number one seed Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the number two seed Toronto Raptors. This is the first time in franchise history that the Raptors have made it to the conference finals. The Cavs are looking at this series as another step to getting back to the NBA Finals.
Cleveland Cavaliers #1 in the East
Led by the king himself, the Cavaliers are looking to bring home that title for first time in franchise history. They have been so close but just couldn’t bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy. In order for them to get to that step they have to take down the second seeded Raptors. The key for the Cavs is to establish a presence in the post with their big men. Also keep moving around on offense so that the Raptors can’t settle into a defense. The Raptors have won two out of the three meetings this year but this stage is different.
The Cavs big three in Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and Lebron James are going to have to do what they have done in previous series versus the Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons. Work the ball around the perimeter and find the open shooter. With working ball around it will open the middle and get Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgav open for an easy bucket.
On defense the Cavs are going to have to pressure Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan and force them to take bad shots. In the previous series when those two weren’t scoring the team struggled and ended up loosing the ball game. The Raptors like to work the ball inside and get their big men going early.
Toronto Raptors #2 in the East
This team is doing what Raptors teams in the past haven’t done and that is make it to the conference finals. Now their goal is to bring home that NBA Finals trophy. They have a tall task going up against a power house team in the Cavs, who haven’t lost yet in these playoffs. The Cavs have a deep bench and look to rotate guys in and out of the line-up constantly. It is going to be different from the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers who were limited by short benches. The Raptors are a team that can hurt the Cavs from beyond the arc if Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan get going.
The Raptors rely heavily on these two guys to score big for them but also rely on their big men in the post. Bismack Biyombo has been a presence for them after losing Jonas Valanciunas in game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals. Key for the Raptors is to not force a lot of shots and to get out ahead of the Cavaliers on fast breaks.
On defense they are going to have to pressure the Cavs and force them to make bad decisions with the ball. It is going to be a tough task seeing how the Cavs have so many options to go to but the Raptors are a young and fast team can do it if they play in control of themselves, cause turnovers and don’t get into foul trouble early.
Lebron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving
These three are going to be the key for any series, how they play dictates how the game will turn out. All three of them have been doing what the team has asked of them throughout the playoffs thus far. Kyrie with his great vision of the court and getting guys the ball, not to mention knocking down the occasional three ball. Kevin knocking down the three ball and getting into a rhythm early in games. Lebron being Lebron, dominating on the boards, running the floor, and just doing whatever he can to help his team win.
Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan, and Bismack Biyombo.
These three were the key reason they beat the Heat in 7 games and will be the reason they advance if each of them do what they are supposed to do. Lowry needs to get hot early in games and use his vision on the floor to distribute the ball. Derozan needs to be that elusive guy that he has been all playoffs long. Biyombo needs to be strong on offensive and defensive boards and draw fouls to him.
The Cavaliers have been to dominant thus far and will continue to be dominant. They will take the Raptors in 5 games and advance to the NBA Finals once again.