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National Basketball Association playoffs 2018: Analysis, updates, schedule 76ers-Celtics, Cavaliers-Raptors

04 May 2018, 12:10 | Percy Christensen

Raptors have dug themselves seemingly inescapable hole

Kevin Love Jonas Valanciunas Jeff Green

Then, they blew a 13-point second half lead at home in their Game 1 Semifinals matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night.

After that Game 1 give-away, the Raptors talked a strong game.

Having played Game 1 on Monday, both teams will have had two days rest heading into Game 2. The problem, of course, is the same one the entire conference has been trying to solve for the last eight seasons: How do you stop a LeBron-led offense? His twelve misses represented the most he has ever been off target in the fourth quarter/overtime in a playoff game. Over the past five seasons DeRozan has averaged eight free-throw attempts per game, which ranks him fourth in the National Basketball Association behind only James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and DeMarcus Cousins.

LeBron's effectiveness came from his passes. Love was miserable (0-of-4) and the Cavs shot 30 percent.

This was supposed to be the year that time ran out for the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"This morning, you could just sense it", said Kevin Love, who had his best game of the postseason with 31 points and 11 rebounds.

Cavs mascot Sir C.C. was joined by members of the Scream Team and Cavalier Girls to walk the halls of Cleveland Clinic Children's, going room to room handing out swag bags.

"I'm just so disappointed in myself in that moment", Ibaka said on his benching.

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The first-team AP All American finished his college career by rushing for 2,248 yards in 2017, good for 5th most in BCS history. With six rounds to go - rounds two and three Friday starting at 4 p.m., and the remaining four rounds starting at 9 a.m.

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Tristan Thompson struggled for most of the season and also had off-court issues that went public, but he managed to kick into a new gear in the postseason.

While the box score numbers (43 points, 14 assists, and eight rebounds for James; 31 points and 11 rebounds for Love) tell most of the story, it's hard to properly articulate the brilliance of the pair - particularly James - over the course of the night.

The Raptors need to display utmost urgency and execution in Game 2 tonight (6 p.m.) in Toronto. The Cavaliers are 18-1 in playoff series when they win Game 1. The rally fired up Celtics, got the crowd back in the game, and put all the pressure on Philadelphia starting the second half. The Raptors have now lost seven playoff games in a row against the Cavs dating back to 2016.

The Raptors led for most of the first half, but never by more than nine points, and were clutching just a two-point advantage at halftime. The closest teams were the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies in 2015.

On the other side, the Raptors should feel free to keep shooting three pointers if the Cavs give them opportunities. Valanciunas shot a perplexing 1-of-7 in the fourth as the driving layups and tip-ins he typically makes so easily bounced uncharacteristically off the rim. As bad as that might look, there's a positive light to that statistic.

Game three is in Cleveland on Saturday.

Cleveland coach Tyrone Lue suggested his team's momentum started with the Game 7 win last Sunday over IN - a statement bounce-back victory after a 34-point loss IN Game 6. He went 2-for-6 from distance and a flawless 7-for-7 from the line.



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