In so many ways, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors have been here before.
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors' DeMarre Carroll in the first half in Game 1 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, May 1, 2017, in Cleveland. There's no reason to think that trend won't continue - especially considering how bad the Raptors have been in Game 1's over the last few years.
Since 2015, the Cavaliers have gone 29-4 in the post-season against Eastern Conference opponents, including 16-1 at home.
Signs seem to be pointing toward more of the same. Cleveland beat the Raptors, 116-105, but in the waning minutes, Jones picked up back-to-back technical fouls for trash talking the Raptors, specifically Toronto shooting guard Normal Powell.
Toronto dropped to 1-12 in playoff openers, and the Raptors got blown out for the fourth consecutive time in Cleveland.
The Raptors are led by guard DeMar Rozan, who averaged 27.3 points per game in the regular season, while the Cavaliers are led by forward LeBron James, who averaged 26.4 ppg. "Doesn't matter what seed you are".
But there was nothing stale about these Cavs as the two teams renewed playoff acquaintances after last year's 4-2 Eastern Conference final win by the Cavs. "That has been our mantra, so that's something we have to exploit next game". "It's just a hard pace to play at when you're playing against a team that can roam and can kind of junk up your game defensively".
The Cavs clobbered Toronto 115-85 in last year's Game 1, but the Raptors had just one day to prepare after their seven-game series with Miami, and Casey talked about how they'd been "ambushed" in that game.
He finished with 35 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, another masterful performance. "I could have easily laid it up, but to throw it off the board like that in a playoff game, an intense game. just another play in the book for me and Bron".
Do you think Toronto Raptors have a legit chance of winning against the Cleveland Cavaliers?
Who: Toronto Raptors (51-31) vs.
Irving, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson returned to the game with a 41-36 lead, and built the gap up to 14 again before halftime. With Tucker, we have a player who can rough up Lebron and play outstanding defence, Ibaka is a 3 and D player and Norman Powell is the energy bunny who has impressed during the final games against the Bucks.
The Cavs may have had their troubles nearly blowing leads against the Pacers, yet they still swept IN away and got a week off before their second round series against the Raptors.
The Cavaliers, though, paid off only once against the Pacers, covering as a 1.5-point favorite in their 119-14 Game 3 road victory. The Raptors can't allow that against Cleveland, one of the league's top three-point shooting teams.
All is not lost for the champs now, not by a long shot.
"They play with that flare". Taking good shots. Being confident in the shots they take, and playing with a better pace were among the issues Lowry said his team needs to work on before Game 2.
"This happens to me every year in the playoffs", Korver said of having limited 3-point opportunities. "Just play the game".