Second Round Primer
Getting You Geared Up for Cleveland’s Matchup with Our Neighbors Up North
Three years into the second LeBron James Era in Cleveland and the King and Co. still haven’t lost a First Round matchup – having polished off the Pacers in four contests.
On Monday night at The Q, they revive last year’s rivalry with the Raptors – taking on Toronto in the East Semifinals one year after dropping them in six in last year’s Conference Finals. The Raptors held off a furious Bucks rally on Thursday night to advance.
The Wine and Gold come into this series having gone 28-4 in the Playoffs against Eastern Conference opponents since the 2015 season – including a 15-1 mark in Cleveland over that span. They averaged a franchise-record 112.8 points in their four-game sweep over Indy, shooting .483 from the floor, .403 from long-range.
As the Cavaliers gear up for the second step along the route in their title defense, here’s a quick primer on their Second Round matchup with that team up North …
In the 2016-17 regular season, Cleveland won three of the four contests against Toronto.
Photo by Jason Miller/NBAE via Getty Images
1. Against the Atlantic Division this year, the Cavaliers lost exactly two games – a March 1 loss to the Celtics in Boston and the final game of the regular season against Toronto with the entire Big Three taking the evening off.
Since 2014-15, the Cavaliers have gone 11-6 (including Playoffs) against Toronto – including a 6-2 home record and a 5-4 mark at the Air Canada Centre. And before stumbling in the finale on Fan App night at The Q, the Cavaliers took the first three contests this season – including a pair of victories in Toronto. Here’s how they went …
October 28: After trailing for most of the night and rallying to tie the game on DeMar DeRozan’s dunk to tie the game at 91-apiece with 1:31 to play, Kyrie Irving did his “Mr. Fourth Quarter” thing – splashing home a three-pointer with 44 ticks to play as the Wine and Gold won their second straight to start the season. Irving led the Cavaliers with 26 points, LeBron finished with 21 and both Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love doubled-up in the dramatic road win.
November 15: Toronto’s All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeRozan combined for 54 points, but the Cavaliers’ entire offense was explosive as the Wine and Gold again snuffed a late Toronto rally – with Channing Frye drilling the decisive triple with under a minute to play. Four Cavaliers scored in double-figures, with Love and Tristan again notching double-doubles and Channing Frye coming off the bench to tally 21 points in the win.
December 5: The Cavaliers came into their early-December meeting in Toronto having dropped their previous three outings and lost J.R. Smith to a knee injury in the first half, but that only seemed to deepen their resolve – with LeBron James leading the way with a game-high 34 points and Kevin Love netting 13 of his 28 points in the opening period. Once again, the Raptors made a late charge – cutting Cleveland’s 11-point fourth-quarter lead to five before triples by Frye and Richard Jefferson put the win on ice.
2. After winning the first 10 games of the 2016 postseason – including two home victories over Toronto in the Eastern Conference Finals – the Cavaliers finally met some resistance when they traveled north of the border for their next two – including a 15-point shellacking in Game 3.
But the Cavaliers returned home to demolish Toronto by nearly 40 points in Game 5 back at The Q and jumped all over the Raptors in Game 6 back at the Air Canada Centre, with the Big Three combining for 83 of Cleveland’s 113 points. In the win, Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with nine assists, one fewer than the Raptors tallied as a team.
In the series, the Wine and Gold shot 54 percent from the floor and 44 percent from deep in their four wins and crushed the Raptors on the glass – outrebounding them by 40 boards on the series, including a +22 margin in Game 1 and a +21 margin in Game 5.
In Cleveland’s four victories, they beat Toronto by an average of 28.5 points per.
3. The Raptors aren’t the same team that Cleveland faced in last year’s East Finals or the one they took three of four from earlier this year.
Not only is sophomore swingman Norman Powell playing some of his best ball – dropping 25 points on the Cavs in season finale and 25 more against the Bucks in Game 5 of their First Round series. But the Raptors also added a pair of rugged frontcourt players – Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker – at the deadline.
Going back to the 2015 postseason, the Cavs hold a 28-4 playoff record against Eastern Conference opponents, which includes a 15-1 mark at The Q.
Ibaka averaged 14.2 points and 6.8 boards as Toronto went 16-7 down the stretch, with Tucker providing some added muscle – something the Raptors will be looking for when Numeral 23 gears up for battle starting Monday night.
“(Ibaka) a veteran for one – a guy with Playoff experience and Finals experience, as well,” replied James when asked how the eight-year vet has helped Toronto. “He’s a guy who can stretch the floor out for them and create and also protect the rim at times. He helped them out, that’s a good place for him. P.J. Tucker, too.”
4. The schedule for the possible seven-game set is as follows …
Game 1 is Monday night at 7 p.m. on TNT with Game 2 set for Wednesday, also at 7 p.m. on TNT – both at The Q. The series shifts back to Toronto for a Friday night Game 3 at 7 p.m. on ESPN followed by a Sunday afternoon affair for Game 4 at 3:30 p.m. on ABC at the Air Canada Centre.
If the remaining games are necessary, it’s next Tuesday (5/9) back in Cleveland, next Thursday (5/11) in the Great White North and the following Sunday at The Q – all times TBD.