By RJ Saunders
Toronto, ON — LeBron James has single handedly changed the Toronto Raptors phrase of, “We the North”, to “Our Season Has All of a Sudden Gone South”, as “The King” dropped 43 points and takes his team back to Cleveland with a 128-110 victory and a 2-0 series lead.
There were a lot of things that went right for Cleveland tonight. LeBron was typical LeBron, and Kevin Love was on another level after a quiet Game One performance, finishing with 31 points. It seemed that at the beginning of the game that Cleveland wanted to get Kevin Love going early as they have tried to do all season. In addition, they did just that.
In the first quarter, Kevin Love got it rolling with a quick 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, after finishing Game One with only seven points. And he would go into the half with 18 points on 50 percent shooting. What you had to love about what Kevin Love did in that first quarter and more importantly that entire game was that Love played the neighborhood bully, as he took advantage of a lot of mismatches on the block.
There were a couple of mouse in the house situations when Toronto found themselves switching on situations that involved Love. There were times in that first half where Kyle Lowry was trying to check Love on the block, other times it was DeRozan, and you also had CJ Miles and Paskal Siakam tried their best to try and slow him down. However, Love got his bib and took advantage of the array of barbecued chicken that was handed to him from Toronto.
Now a stat that won’t show in the stat line but will be critical for the Cavs going forward is going to be the production that they get when LeBron isn’t on the floor. James played 41 minutes, and with him not on the floor, the Cavs only scored seven points. Out of those seven, Love had five. At some point LeBron is going to have to rest should the Cavs season continue to the Eastern Conference Finals. However, Cleveland in that first half did a good job of keeping the game close (only being down by two in that first half), and that allowed “The King” to take charge.
LeBron in that first half was surprisingly quiet. He took only 2 shots in the first quarter, however finished the half with 16 points and 7 assists. However, in that second half, LeBron… I don’t know if you could say that it was just another day at the office for LeBron, you can’t even say he was unconscious, because that wouldn’t be enough to describe LeBron in the second half.
In the second half, it seemed as if Thanos had given LeBron James the glove with all six infinity stones; James was absolutely unstoppable. In addition, it seemed as if he was trying to see how far away could he hit “post” fadeaway jumpers. He hit six of them in that second half, and at least four of them were around the free throw line.
You also have to credit the great play from the Cavalier veterans. Jeff Green hit his stride with 14 big points, including four 3-pointers, George Hill scored a much needed 13 points, and JR Smith put up another solid performance with 15 points.
However, the big story from this game was the lack of urgency from the Toronto Raptors. You would’ve believed that in that first half, you were going to get the, “We must play like it’s game 7” Demar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. However, they played as the game is decided in the first half. And if it was, they would probably win every game. Because In that first half, they both played great.
Lowry was sizzling as he went 6-of-7 from the field and had 18 points in the first half, and DeRozan was being aggressive early with 11 points of his own. However, the second half, it seems that the Raptors All-Star guards took their foot off the gas. The duo only combined for 12 points in that second half, and Lowry only had three points. You can’t call yourselves All-Stars and put up numbers like that in the second half. You understand that it is a team game and that you must get help in the scoring column from your “Others”.
Toronto did get that help, as the bench accounted for 42 bench points. However, the NBA Playoffs is the place where your stars are supposed to shine the brightest, especially in the second half. However, the Raptors’ two stars were once again not present in that second half.
In addition, Toronto must’ve been lost inside of Jurassic Park, because they played very little defense as a team. They only caused three turnovers the entire game on the Cavs. And in the second half, they allowed the Cavaliers to tally 37 points in the third quarter and another 30 in the fourth. The NBA wanted to talk to Drake about not talking to other players; he should try to talk to the Raptors about talking on defense.
Cleveland is going home to the Q up two games to zero, and at this point probably have this series in the bag. In addition, they aren’t doing anything special. Their players are finally hitting after being ice cold in the last series, and they’re just hanging around in these games before completely taking over.
But if Toronto is going to want any chance to come back in this series, they have to look to their All-Star players and play better defense on LeBron James. That is…if they know how to stop him.