Cavaliers vs Raptors Live Streaming :
The Raptors may have exorcised some first-round demons in the 2018 NBA playoffs, while the Cavaliers may have developed some. Toronto dispatched the Washington Wizards in six games, while LeBron James and Cleveland needed a tough seven-game series to get through the Indiana Pacers.
And so in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday, when the Raptors try to elude the giant No. 23 shadow that has haunted them their past two playoff years, the first guy to defend James — the greatest player on the planet — is a rookie, OG Anunoby.
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But the good thing about the playoffs is that every series is different, so there’s rarely much carry-over. The Cavs aren’t playing the best basketball right now, but they’ve eliminated the Raptors in each of the past two seasons, which could give them some confidence. On the other hand, Toronto is playing with a new style and renewed confidence after being one of the best teams in the league during the regular season.
On second thought, maybe they are all nuts up there.
“I’ve got a lot of faith in OG [to] go out there and do what he’s done all year: Play well. It’s not a one-man thing. We’re a complete team, so everyone has to go out and be locked in,” said Raptor All-Star Kyle Lowry, who addressed Anunoby’s confidence. “The way OG is, his mannerisms, the way he carries himself, I’m not surprised. He’s a quiet, confident kid. I know he’s looking forward to the opportunity.”
It should be a fun matchup. Below is the schedule, how to watch Game 1 and a preview of what we have to come.
Raptors: Fred VanVleet (shoulder) played 19 minutes in Game 6 against the Wizards, and is expected to play in Game 1 vs. Cavs.
Cavaliers: George Hill (back) played 19 minutes in Game 7 against the Pacers.
Toronto Raptors projected starting lineup: G Kyle Lowry; G DeMar DeRozan; F OG Anunoby; F Serge Ibaka; C Jonas Valanciunas
Cleveland Cavaliers projected starting lineup: G George Hill; G JR Smith; G Kyle Korver; F LeBron James; F Kevin Love
The Raptors finished as the East’s top seed and hope this year ends differently. They watched LeBron and the Cavs celebrate a 4-0 sweep in the Eastern semis last year, and a 4-2 conference finals win before becoming the eventual champs in 2016.
There is pressure on Toronto to advance. Casey masterfully rested veterans, developed young guys all season. Now one of those young guys will start — again, start, the Raptors have a laundry list of players behind Anunoby — on James.
Raptors win if:
The Raptors have had their struggles with the Cavs in the past, but there’s a huge difference this year: On paper, they are unquestionably the better team. If Lowry and DeRozan play the way they’ve been playing and the offense continues it’s sharing ways, they should be able to beat the Cavs. Defensively they have the pieces and system to at least bother LeBron enough to make him work. One key to the series will be Toronto’s bench, where they have a huge advantage, which will allow them to go on big runs when LeBron is out of the game
The Raptors beat Washington in six games while the Cavs were severely tested in seven by the Pacers, which gives Toronto hope. Most believe the Raptors are a more complete team than the Pacers. And James needed a masterful 45-point effort in Game 7.
Cavaliers win if:
LeBron carried the Cavs to a first-round win pretty much by himself — he won’t be able to do that against the Raptors because they’re just too good. Each member of Cleveland’s supporting cast showed flashes during the opening round, but they’re all going to have to be much more consistent for the Cavs to pull this one out. It starts with Love, who has to play like the All-Star that he is.
It’s not a one-man job, it’s five-man job to slow him down,” Casey said. “We’re going to have different looks, different approaches to how to guard him, to guard their team. He’s going to score his points. What you can’t do is let three or four other guys come up and have career nights.