3. How Much of a Difference Will Ibaka Make?
Last year’s Eastern Conference Finals were a story of two different types of Cavs teams.
The ones that dominated all three home games in blowout fashion – and the team that showed up for Games 3 and 4 in Toronto and looked lethargic.
The characters are mostly the same in Cleveland.
The bench has some new faces, but Toronto’s roster additions were a bit more significant in February.
The biggest of course being Serge Ibaka.
Toronto has waited a long time for an above average starting power forward and Ibaka is certainly what they needed.
He may not be an All-Star, but provides a legitimate third scoring option threat to complement Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
Games like the one he pulled off against Milwaukee in Game 5 are what the Cavs need to avoid.
Ibaka shot 8-for-10 from the field, scoring 19 points.
DeRozan and Lowry didn’t usually see contributions like that from their teammates before his arrival, and any time those two get a little bit of help in the scoring department, Toronto has a good chance to win.
This series offers a potential for an intriguing matchup between Ibaka and Love.
They’re similar players, who can spread the floor and knock down open shots.
In a lot of ways, the move Toronto made to acquire Ibaka appears to be strictly to counter what Love can bring to the table.
On the other end of the floor, this series could provide opportunities for big nights for Ibaka, as Love is not known for his defense.
This will be Cleveland’s first time facing the Raptors with Ibaka on the floor and I suspect it’ll be a fun matchup to watch all series.
However, Toronto made another, less splashy move at the deadline, which also seemed to be a direct response to try to match up with Cleveland…
NEO Sports Insiders Newsletter
Sign up to receive our NEOSI newsletter, and keep up to date with all the latest Cleveland sports news.