This eventually has to get boring right? The last time LeBron James felt pressure in the East playoffs he was in Miami. Since then? Sunny skies. The defending champs had a week off after taking down the Indiana Pacers in four quick games and looked as fresh as ever. On paper the Toronto Raptors are one of the two teams that should give the Cavs trouble. You wouldn’t know it after watching Game 1.
The game started, as most Cavs playoff games do, with LeBron and Kyrie Irving doing whatever they wanted. The King and Kyrie set the tempo early with a NBA Street alley-oop that all but sealed the Raptors’ fate. The Cavs ended the quarter with a 30-18 and LeBron had not even left first gear. Iman Shumpert on the other hand caught a body before the period ended.
It's Iman's Shumpert's hair and we're just living in it!!! pic.twitter.com/HhoeTA1mDg
— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) May 1, 2017
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan led a Raptors comeback bid in the second quarter, getting the lead to single digits before a Kyle Korver three put the league back up to ten. After the break the Cavs (LeBron) retook momentum and never surrendered it. LeBron stayed in first gear the whole game and violated the Raptors’ very existence.
If that doesn’t sum up the level of respect LeBron has for his current opponent. The most disheartening part of this whole game if you root for the Raptors? They didn’t play bad and still lost by 20. Lowry set a franchise record for assists in a playoff game with eleven, and DeRozan finished with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting. The turnover battle was dead even. The rebounding differential was three in favor of the Cavs and both shot about the same from the field.
So what separated these two teams if the stat sheets were relatively even? The Cavs were on the attack the whole night. Whether it was LeBron doing what he pleases (finsihed with 35 points and 10 rebounds), Shumpert doing what he wanted (PSA: If Shumpert is going off on you it’s time to pack it in and hold your L.) and Kyrie was putting dudes on skates.
A disengaged Cavs team is dangerous already. But an engaged Cavs team? That’s just scary. The Raptors are known to be sluggish in Game 1s, but if they show up to the Q for Game 2 sleep-walking the Cavs will put their season to sleep for good.