Title: TORONTO’S FUTURE COULD DEPEND ON HOW IT CLOSES OUT SERIES VS. CLEVELAND
Date: May 3, 2017
Original Source: Vice
Synopsis: For my latest at Vice, I wrote about the Raptors still needing to respond, for their own sake, after two beat-downs from the Cavaliers.
It’s not over yet.
OK, well it’s probably over. The bubble has been burst, with the Cleveland Cavaliers very swiftly destroying the notion that the Toronto Raptors are the biggest threat to their standing as the class of the Eastern Conference. It appears, once again, that LeBron James will be headed to the NBA Finals, an inevitability seven years long. The Cavaliers own a 2-0 series lead over the Raptors, and James is 19-0 in those situations in his career. Teams can barely beat James four times in seven games, let alone do so in five.
Sure, the Celtics or Wizards loom, each presenting their own unique challenges. But Toronto was supposed to be the toughest challenge the Cavaliers would face, a team that pushed them to six games a year ago and was demonstrably better and more well-suited to the matchup this time around. Those things are true, and they have not mattered. Toronto may not end up posing the same challenge as Washington or Boston will, or Indiana did, but its struggles in the second round here are emblematic of the gap between the Cavaliers and the rest of the East as a whole. Cleveland hasn’t even fully “flipped the switch” on defense, and is steamrolling what’s supposed to be its stiffest pre-Golden State Warriors competition.