For the second consecutive postseason, it has become abundantly clear that the Toronto Raptors are going to get owned by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs have now won both Game 1 and Game 2 in blowouts without the Raptors ever really looking like they could do anything to stop the onslaught of Cavs’ three-pointers and dunks. In Game 1, Kyrie Irving styled on Toronto’s guards and LeBron was so relaxed that he mockingly swiped a beer off the sideline and almost took a pull. You might expect it to get better and for the Raps to bounce back in Game 2. It did not, they did not, and it’s not going to get better because the Cavs are altogether too much for the Raps to handle.
Tonight, Cleveland shot 54.7 percent from the field, made 18 threes, and held DeMar DeRozan to a paltry five points on two made shots, both season lows. DeRozan’s running mate Kyle Lowry left the game with a mysterious ankle injury, briefly returned, then left the game again. The Raptors are great when both guards are on their games, uneven when only one is, and very bad when neither can score. If Lowry is out for multiple games, the Raptors will be even further off the pace and will be forced to operate without their most critical player. Backup center Jonas Valanciunas stepped up tonight and scored 23 points, but he also watched Cavs backup center Channing Frye hit five threes and screwed up a pick-and-roll coverage so bad that he smashed into Lowry and let Tristan Thompson get an uncontested dunk.
Meanwhile, the Cavs have LeBron James, who is rapidly gaining momentum and transforming into the player who singlehandedly beat the greatest regular season team of all time last summer. His 35-and-10 night in Game 1 was a gem, and tonight, he outdid himself, putting up 39 points (on 14 shots), six rebounds, four assists, three steals, two blocks, and one very large dunk.
James is the best basketball player on the planet and that alone makes the Raptors’ job a tough one. When he reaches this rare playoff gear while the rest of his team is scoring with reckless abandon, Toronto’s bench can’t do anything worthwhile until garbage time (which starts sooner every night), Iman Shumpert is remembering how to play basketball, and Kyle Lowry is maybe hurt, there is no plausible scenario where the Raptors advance. Toronto is a tough place to play and the Raps might steal a game, but this one’s done.