East Conf. Semis: Cleveland Cavaliers 113-112 Toronto Raptors [OT] - 5 Talking Points
The Toronto Raptors lost their homecourt advantage in their very first game despite heading into the Conference Semifinals with a rest advantage over the aging Cleveland Cavaliers. While they played reasonably well for 3 quarters of the game, their all-too-familiar demons during the 4th quarter took hold of them, and in the last 17 minutes of play, they were only able to score 25 points.
The Cavaliers match up much better on offense against the Raptors than they did against the Indiana Pacers, and the difference showed in the play of their entire roster. 5 players for Cleveland scored in double digits, with their veterans Jeff Green, JR Smith and Kyle Korver coming up big for them at important junctures.
LeBron James notched his 21st playoff triple-double - something he is wont to do given the kind of form he has been in this entire 2017-18 campaign. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry stuffed the stat sheet, but ultimately wilted in the face of the challenge offered by the Cavs and gave away a morale-sapping W to them.
The following are 5 important talking points from the game:
#5 The Raptors' pace proved too much for the Cavaliers in the first quarter
The Raptors set the tone early on in the game. They used their extra-paced offense to create a sizeable separation in the first quarter, going to the bench leading by 14 points, 33-19, at the end of the period.
The Cavaliers focused on getting touches to all of their players, which is part of the reason why they were held to only 19 points in the quarter. During the first quarter, LeBron attempted only 5 shots, while the rest of the team took 20 shots and made only 5 of them.
The Raptors, meanwhile, were picking the Cavs apart in the pick-and-roll. They switched Kevin Love onto the ballhandler with encouraging results, as Love had to take the bench with over 6 minutes left in the first. Tristan Thompson's induction stemmed the bleeding a little, but the Raptors then heated up from 3-point territory to close the quarter out strongly.