The Cleveland Cavaliers will play the Toronto Raptors for the right to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. The two teams both took very different paths to get where they are. The Cavaliers are 8-0 in the playoffs after sweeping the first two rounds. The Raptors went to a game 7 in both rounds and will be playing their 15th game of the playoffs when Game one tips off.
Point Guard- Kyrie Irving vs. Kyle Lowry
Lowry showed as much improvement as any player in the league this season. He lost weight and improved his conditioning and it was rewarded with a career year. He struggled early in the playoffs but has stepped up big time in recent games. Irving is listed as the point guard however spends more time playing off the ball playing next to Lebron James. He averaged over 20 points per game and remained healthy after returning from offseason surgery. He excels as a point guard when James is off the floor and becomes more of a shooter when they play together.
Shooting Guard- J.R Smith vs. Demar Derozan
Smith has all the skills a basketball player can ask for however with Cleveland he usually only exhibits one consistently, 3 point shooting. He is deadly from beyond the arc when going well but when he struggles they tend to come in bunches and he can miss many shots in a row. He overplays things on the defensive end and can lose track of his assignment. DeRozan is not your traditional shooting guard as he does not shoot the ball well from the three point line but he is an all star because of his elite mid range jumper and ability to get to the foul line
Small Forward- Lebron James vs. M=Demare Carrol
James had another spectacular season and remains amongst the top 3 players in the league. He has been more of a facilitator so far these playoffs but can turn into a scorer when needed. Carroll was signed with the idea of defending players like James and he will be put to the test. He also helps spread the floor with his 3-point shooting.
POWER FORWARD- Kevin Love vs. Patrick Patterson
Love has shined after struggling through injuries during his first season in Cleveland. The team does a good job of using his versatile skill set to find a weakness in the defense. Patterson is the assumed starter although you could also see Luis Scola here. Patterson does a lot of positive things when on the court
CENTER- Tristan Thompson vs. Bismark Biyombo
Thompson is the best offensive rebounder in the league and a relentless defender who fits in very well with a team filled with offensive threats.
Biyombo has been impressive filling in for an injured Jonas Valanciunas.
The Cavaliers have a deep bench with veterans like Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert providing versatility and a different look from the starters. The Raptors were not a deep team before suffering from injuries
Toronto has battled to get themselves into this position. They have showed a lot of heart and determination and earned the right to be here. Cleveland has yet to be tested and will certainly be well rested.
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