It’s officially time to worry as the Cleveland Cavaliers regression in play has helped the Toronto Raptors even the Eastern Conference Finals 2-2.
1. LeBron James had another great stat line in the loss (29 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists), but his shooting leaves a little to be desire. He’s 2-of-6 from the field when getting wide open shots in the last two games. The Raptors want James to the shoot the ball from a distance, and are happy to let him do it.
James’ career will tell you he doesn’t like being pegged into doing one thing, but Lue’s got to convince his superstar that the way to win this series is with LBJ is in the post–a place where’s he’s virtually unstoppable.
With James facilitating from the paint, the Cavs scored on 14 consecutive second-half possessions in Game 4. It’s the reason they were even able to make it a game. But after it stopped working once, the Cavs moved away from the strategy.
This story isn’t quite as old as the Bible, but it’s been known for a long, long time that if James gets the ball in the post, he can’t be stopped. He commands so much attention, that he can either make the pass that leads to a score, or find a way to make a basket himself.
2. Bismack Biyombo is last year’s Tristan Thompson. He’s annoying the Cavs, much like Thompson annoyed teams last year, with his rebounding skills. After ripping down 26 boards in Game 3, Biyombo followed up with 14 rebounds last night. He had big offensive rebounds in the final two minutes that led to Toronto baskets.
In those last couple of minutes, the Raptors out rebounded the Cavs 5-2. Not good, and here’s why. The Cavs have won two blowouts in this series. Toronto has won one. Game 4 was a toss up, and the Raptors pulled it out.
This series is at least going six games, and longer series can favor teams can win the close ones.
Fortunately for the Cavaliers, this game is going back to Cleveland–a place Toronto hasn’t won all season. Call up Melt or put Chef Michael Symon on the payroll, because it’s time for some home cooking.
3. Toronto’s backcourt is clicking. We knew this would be the biggest problem the Cavs could face entering the series, and look what happened–a combined 67 points from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan in Game 4.
Kyrie Irving couldn’t guard a tree. LeBron is only one man. He started the game on DeRozan, but the Cavs switch on pick and rolls, which takes James off his man. Lue needs to figure something, and quickly. J.R. Smith can play better defense. So can Iman Shumpert. Someone needs to step up on defense. Perhaps we need to see more Matthew Dellavedova, who played 15 minutes in the Game 4 loss.
4. If there’s one thing I hate doing, it’s agreeing with Skip Bayless. But at the moment, this is true…
I’m one of Kevin Love‘s staunchest defenders. Give me a big who can shoot form the outside while doubling as one of the game’s premier rebounder any day.
More from Factory of Sadness
- Bet $1 on ANYTHING to Unlock $200 Guaranteed with Crazy Bet365 Ohio Promo!
- 3 reasons why the Cleveland Cavaliers have a good shot to win the East next year
- It might be too soon to say it but it looks like the Cleveland Guardians are back
- Are the Cleveland Browns a Top 10 roster heading into the 2023 season?
- Eastern Conference Solidarity: Back the Heat with $5 Bet, Win $200 Bonus INSTANTLY with DraftKings Promo
But it would be a stretch to battle for Love today. He was for 4-of-14 from the field and looked clueless.
Coach Tyronn Lue need to figure out how to get him going. Perhaps some shots from the elbow to warm him up are in order.
Additionally, for a guy who battles a reputation for being soft, Love doesn’t do himself any favors. He stepped on a ref’s foot and banged up his ankle. He doesn’t expect to miss Game 5, but it clearly bothered him in Game 4, as he sat the fourth quarter.
Playing at this time of year is why Love resigned with the Cavs. I think it’s unfair to comment about someone else’s pain, because no person can know another’s threshold. But this one thing I know is true: It’s not a good look for K-Love.
5. The 3-point shooting is not going to stop. Remember, this is a 3-point shooting team. The Cavs are just missing a ton of shots, so it’s much more noticeable when the shots go clank.
LeBron made a poignant comment after the game, when he said the NBA is a make or miss league. In a bottom line world, James is 100 percent correct. The Cavs don’t need to be historic from behind the arc, but they’ve got to do better. Cleveland shooters are 27 of 82 from downtown (.329) combined in Games 3 and 4. Awful. Just awful.