3 reasons why the Cavs are barely hitting their stride and the Raptors are in trouble
After sweeping the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers are now back in the Eastern Conference Finals. The will face the Toronto Raptors, who outlasted the Miami Heat in seven games.
Before the series even starts, we all have to admit that the Cavs have been playing impressive playoff-type of basketball nowadays.
They're the second highest scoring team in points per game, at 107.8 points a night. Defensively, they're in the top 5 in terms of limiting their opponents' output at 97.3 points per night. However, their three-point shooting has been their most lethal weapon.
LeBron James and company have been unleashing a barrage of threes in the playoffs. They are shooting 46.2 percent from the three-point line, topping the playoffs, so far. The Cavs aren't the perfect team to beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals (that's if the Warriors can make it back there), but the Cavs will definitely make it out of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Here are the three biggest reasons why the Cleveland Cavaliers will make it back to the NBA Finals for the second-straight season.
THE LEBRON THREAT
He's not the leading scorer for the Cleveland Cavaliers in this year's playoffs; not even among the top 5 scorers in the playoffs. And this is a strange sight to see.
He's only averaging 23 points per game through the first two rounds. But that's the good news for the Cavs, and the bad news for the Toronto Raptors.
We all know LeBron James can score 30 or 40 points at ease, when he wants. He just hasn't had to do that yet. Despite his low offensive output so far, the King has made 49.7 percent of his shots from the field.
If you're Toronto you should worry because at that rate, LeBron is only averaging 23 points a night, in 8 wins, so far. And he's not just about scoring and dunking over defenders. He's also leading the Cavs in blocks and assists per night, norming 7.2 assists and 2.4 blocks per outing.
If he needs to dig out a huge offensive night, he can. But he's proving that he can beat you in other ways, too, in case you thought he couldn't anymore.
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THE PRESENCE OF LOVE
He missed almost all of last year's playoffs due to injuries, and yet the Cleveland Cavaliers still managed to find their way to the NBA Finals, only to lose to the Warriors.
Now imagine if Kevin Love was around during that series. It would have changed the complexity of the series, no doubt. During this year's playoffs, Love is leading Cleveland in rebounds; averaging 12.5 boards per outing.
For a guy who has been struggling with his shot, rebounding has been Love's strength aside from his ability to make those outlet passes that lead to transition baskets for the Cavs. If Love can stay healthy, he will be a big asset for the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals – and potentially beyond.
A CAPABLE POINT GUARD
Kyrie Irving got injured in Game 1 of last year's NBA Finals against GSW and never returned, leaving only LeBron James to carry the team on his back, again. There was nobody left to guard Stephen Curry.
That's why Irving will be an important reason why the Cavs will march back to the Finals. He's leading the Cavs in scoring, averaging 24.4 points in the playoffs – a dimension that they didn't entirely have last year.
He may not be able to contain Steph Curry's outburst, but he can surely help offset the onslaught that Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan will bring in the Eastern Conference Finals.
His speed is Russell Westbrook-like in the open court, and you have to keep an eye on him or he'll pick your pocket – he's averaging nearly 1.5 steals per game in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
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