Home / Sports / LeBron James & # 39; s brilliance aside as the # 1-ranked Raptors prevailed against the Cavs

LeBron James & # 39; s brilliance aside as the # 1-ranked Raptors prevailed against the Cavs

The Toronto Raptors, who have won 59 regular-season games and finished third in the league's net rank, dropped back to 3-0 in the second round against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that swept them last year she eliminated two years ago at the conference finals. This was supposed to be the time the Raptors were real, in which they were ready to finally defeat LeBron James – or to challenge at least .

That is, um, definitely not happened. Despite a brave fourth-quarter comeback on Saturday, Toronto lost 105-103, with James delivering the dagger : A full-speed floater on Summer. After the Raptors are in danger on Monday, there are six problems that plagued them:

Where is DeRozan's lead?

DeMar DeRozan played only 28 minutes in this do-or-die game, an amazing fact considering how far he has come. DeRozan was the Raptors' best player during the regular season, he has a career year and expands his game by improving as a playmaker and moving out of his comfort zone as a 3-point shooter. He was also effective in the first round against the Washington Wizards in general.

DeRozan's performance in this series, however, was dismaying. While his numbers were good in the first two games, the Cavs chased him on defense and did not respect his 3-point shot. Game 3 was much worse: he had eight points in 3-for-1

2 shooting and was on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, when Toronto overtook Cleveland 38:26 and came so close to the overtime game.

Normally, DeRozan's conscious style is a feature, not a bug. It's hard for defenses to speed it up and slow it down. He also deserves praise for the way he has changed his offensive approach, turning from a Slasher to one of the League's leading playmakers. Against the cavaliers his patience looked more like passivity. He slowed down the Raptors' attack, which allowed Cavs to defend himself, and was more undecided than aggressive. Cleveland's defenders never bite on his pump forgeries, and he does not seem to think he'll get the benefit of doubting foul calls when he attacks the rim. As a result, he passed the ball in his hands.

DeRozan is worlds better than what he showed in Game 3, but he is not dangerous enough for Dwane Casey as a spacer or defender to put him back on the pitch. Another group clicks. This was a courageous move from Casey, but it is worrying that it was logical.

What about all this change?

Toronto's reinvention this season was not just about the new offensive – it changed more aggressively than ever in defense, and that was a strength. It is often an effective strategy against teams with many ball and player moves. In this series, however, the Raptors were willing to change and package advantageous deviations from Cavs. Kevin Love was pleased with smaller players – scoring 52 points in games 2 and 3 to reach 18 for 35 – and James was able to beat O.G. Anunoby and bring C.J. Miles on him whenever he wanted the track on Saturday.

The answer is not to change the repertoire. Toronto could have been much more selective. Cleveland is a phenomenal offensive team, and it's fatal to give James shortcuts for high-proof looks.

The Cavs have largely dictated the conditions

One thing the Raptors can take from their fourth-quarter explosion is the importance of the step. They pushed the ball as in the first quarter of Game 1, and they looked like the younger, more athletic team (you are!).

Unfortunately, Cleveland has controlled the pace for the vast majority of the game series, largely thanks to James, who holds the ball and almost never turns it over. Unfortunately, they also learned too late for them.

The Love Valanciunas Riddle

Prior to the series, Toronto's biggest matchup problem (apart from LeBron's guarding) was obvious: Can Jonas Valanciunas stand up to a 5-man formation? Cleveland manager Tyronn Lue went down with Love in the middle because he is good for James and defensively forces Valanciunas into unpleasant situations.

The Raptors could have counteracted this by damaging Valanciunas and playing him only against Tristan Thompson. Casey decided not to, probably because Valanciunas stabilized Toronto's offense. However, it is not a crazy coincidence that the Raptors returned to the center with Serge Ibaka and met with Love.

What happened to Toronto's bank advantage?

The Raptors had the best bench in the league in the regular season, and this was a main argument that went into the series, mainly due to the poor support of James' first-round cast against the Indiana Pacers. However, the Torontos Bank did not look good against Cleveland: the big man Jakob Poeltl was unplayable, guard Delon Wright was calm and Pascal Siakam's offensive limits were visible.

It was downright frightening to see the Raptors struggling to find the right mix in terms of balance of attack and defense in this matchup. That should be the problem of the Cavs, not theirs. Although Toronto is profound and versatile, it has had great difficulty finding different groups that work cohesively on both ends.

Until the fourth quarter of Game 3. The five-man unit of Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Miles, Anunoby and Ibaka worked wonders, right?

The system is great, but the talent is not ideal

The cultural rebuilding of the Raptors was necessary and it paid off with the best regular season in franchise history. It is noteworthy that they started this journey with imperfect staff. The play-offs tend to uncover any small flaws the teams have, and now it looks like Toronto needs more reliable shooters and tall men who are natural passers-by to make the most of the offensive system. This year's Raptors have always been a more productive and competent 3-point team, and sales have become a big problem in the playoffs.

The Cavaliers are an interesting contrast as they play a simpler style that is not based on tons of passports. They rarely think about things or mistreat the ball, because everything revolves around the smartest player in the game, who takes his opponents apart. Ironically, much of Toronto's offensive success in its comeback was incredibly easy. The Raptors involved Love in pick-and-roll, spreading the ground and making a lot of rides and kicks to open shooters.

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