How short is the memory of Cleveland Cavaliers’ fans?
Have they forgotten that the Toronto Raptors won one less game in the regular season than the wine and gold?
This is the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s not supposed to be easy. And the Cavs and Raptors were the two best teams in the East for the entire season.
Thinking Cleveland was going to cakewalk to The Finals is shortsighted and is probably the reason for the angst that fans have this morning after the 105-99 loss to Canada’s darlings.
A few of the things we were concerned about before the series started have reared their ugly heads in the contests played up north.
That doesn’t mean these things can’t be corrected, and quite frankly, until the Cavs lose the home court advantage or there is a seventh game of the series, we will not go into panic mode.
In the first two games, the Raptors were concerned about the three point shooting of the Cavs, so they extended their defense, and Tyronn Lue’s club made a parade to the basket, including an array of dunks.
Toronto closed off the paint at home, and Cleveland hasn’t been as proficient from distance as they were against Detroit and Atlanta.
Lue has to come up with a counter, and maybe he did by playing Channing Frye at center in the fourth quarter, which drew Bismack Biyombo away from the hoop.
It’s simple, if the long range shots aren’t falling, you have to try something else, and you need to attack the basket. And we aren’t talking about driving one on four like Kyrie Irving has time and again over the past two games.
The bigger issue in the last two games has been the defense, particularly on the Raptors’ all-star backcourt combination of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
The Cavs seem to be going behind the screen on Lowry, allowing him open looks on three point shots, while DeRozan’s mid-range game has JR Smith and LeBron James on their heels consistently.
Perhaps blitzing the pick and roll more often, like Cleveland did early in the fourth quarter, should be the plan. Let the offensive burden be more on DeMarre Carroll, Patrick Patterson, etc.
Also, Tristan Thompson has not been effective keeping Biyombo off the boards.
The media narrative is that Kevin Love is killing the Cavs defensively, because he is always the reason the wine and gold lose, right? We don’t see any evidence that Luis Scola and/or Patrick Patterson doing damage offensively.
Think about last night’s fourth quarter. Cleveland scored on 11 straight possessions, but the reason the Cavs could get no more than a three point lead was the inability to stop the Raptors on the defensive end.
A few stops at that time, and we are talking about a 3-1 series lead.
The Cavaliers simply have to do a better job slowing down Lowry and DeRozan, and then limiting the Raptors to one shot.
It sounds simple, but the defense must get better, and the offense can’t settle for the long range shot. Attack the basket and get to the foul line.
One more thing that was striking about last night’s comeback attempt in the fourth quarter. The offense was running through James and Matthew Dellavedova.
This isn’t to say Delly is better than Kyrie Irving, but the latter seems to be in his “try to do everything himself” mode at times.
A victory tomorrow night will ease the panic and put Toronto in a position to be eliminated.
It is true that the Cavs haven’t been able to win in Canada, but the same is true about the Raptors at The Q.