Eastern Conference Semi Finals Preview
Cavaliers vs. Raptors
The Cavaliers won their 20th consecutive first round game including the biggest comeback in NBA playoff history when they disposed of the Pacers in the first round. The Raptors were on the ropes a few times against Milwaukee in the first round be bounced back to win the series in 6. The two teams will now play a best of 7 series for the right to play in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Point Guard- Kyrie Irving vs. Kyle Lowry
This matchup features two of the best scoring point guards that the NBA has to offer. Irving is a proven clutch scorer who can fill up a box score. He is often the guy with the ball in his hands late in the shot clock. Lowry is quicker than he looks and he is critical to the Raptors success. He is an efficient driving the ball to the basket as well as shooting the three pointer. Should be a fun to watch them battle one another.
Advantage - Even
Shooting Guard- J.R Smith vs. Demar Derozan
Smith is one of many players who will see minutes at shooting guard for the Cav’s while Derozan is the Raptors clear best player. Derozan is unique in that he is an off guard who doesn’t shoot the three pointer often but he excels at getting to the rim, getting fouled and at the mid-range game. Smith is basically just a three pointer shooter offensively and a steady defender. Smith is capable of hot streaks that envy any shooter.
Advantage – Raptors
Small Forward- Lebron James vs. Norman Powell
The lineup for most of the season featured Powell off the bench and Center Jonas Valanciunas as a starter. It is unclear if Toronto will stick with Powell in the starting lineup or not. Powell had a fantastic series in the first round and its likely he will stay in the lineup. Lebron James is the best player on the planet until proven otherwise and he is matchup nightmare for any team.
Advantage – Cavaliers
Power Forward- Kevin Love vs. Damarre Carrol
Love has finally found his comfort zone playing alongside Irving and James. He spreads the court with his 3 point shooting and often goes into the post when playing with the reserves. He can sometimes get lost with the deepest bench in the league but is a proven veteran. Carrol is a natural small forward who will likely get the start defending Lebron James. He is a good shooter and will be needed on both ends of the floor.
Center- Tristan Thompson vs. Serge Ibaka
Thompson is the best offensive rebounder in the league and a presence on the defensive end, but a liability as far as scoring the basketball. He is not a threat anywhere outside of the paint. Ibaka has extended his range to the three-point line and can score in a variety of ways. He is also an elite defender and shot blocker.
This is not even close Channing Frye, Kyle Korver, Richard Jefferson, and Deron Williams contribute to the deepest bench in the league
This series will only be close if role players like Powell continue to step up for the Raptors. They will need multiple contributions from unlikely sources. Baring injury to Lebron James this is a series in which the Cav’s should have little trouble
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