Former Cavalier guard C.J. Miles cannot be lost defensively by the Cavaliers, who attempted nearly 80 percent of his shots from behind the arc in the first round against the Wizards. DeLon Wright is a solid defender for Toronto, while guard Fred VanVleet is one who can ignite the offensive flame for the Raptors off the bench.
Defensively, Anunoby looks to draw the toughest of all NBA assignments by way of staying with LeBron James. The Cavs need to utilize as many post-up opportunities involving James on the block simply because be it Anunoby or whoever Toronto chooses, James simply cannot be guarded on the blocks.
The key stat for Cleveland might have taken place yesterday with no game being played. Monday’s much-needed day off had to be a major boost for James, who admitted after Game 7’s win, he was “burnt.” Who could blame him? James has done everything for his team but change into his Superman’s cape inside that proverbial phone booth.
If the Tristan Thompson from Sunday’s Game 7 win could show up tonight in Toronto, it would be a huge boost and could easily sway the momentous pendulum in Cleveland’s favor. Kevin Love and Korver must knock down open looks, while an accurate Smith would do wonders as well regarding Cleveland’s attempt to steal one game on the road.
One “X” factor, if you will, for Cleveland, might be a major contribution of any kind from one of the “new guys” in Larry Nance Jr., Rodney Hood or Jordan Clarkson. It’s time for these players to throw away the postseason jitters, and make a play. The Cleveland bench must equal or outplay the Raptor reserves if the Cavs do intend to “steal” a game away from the friendly atmosphere of Quicken Loans Arena.
And as for those demons haunting the Raptors, in particular the visions of a runaway freight train known as James dancing and dunking through their heads, time will tell if this is the year Toronto erases the not-so-fond memories of its playoff past.
The road to the Eastern Conference championship, though, still goes through Cleveland. And just how long the Cavs can continue to travel that path, Northeast Ohio fans should get a pretty good idea as to the answer to that question tonight.
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