Heat? Raptors? Does Either Team Stand a Chance Against the Cavs?
*Photo via Yahoo
Round two of the NBA playoffs are rolling along. The question as it seems now, is can the Toronto Raptors or Miami Heat slow down the Cleveland Cavaliers and stop potential back to back NBA Finals appearances? The Cavs are currently 7-0 in the playoffs, the only team still without a playoff loss. The Heat and Raptors on the other hand, both were taken to a Game 7 in round one, advantage Cavs?
Currently the Raptors and Heat are tied at a game apiece, with Game 3 being May 7th, in Miami. Through the first two games in round one, the Heat had everyone around the league feeling as if they had become the sole threat to the Cavs in the Eastern Conference. An as quickly as those thoughts were made they lost three straight to the Hornets. On the flip side, the Raptors had their hands full with Paul George and the Indiana Pacers , who shocked much of the league with their impressive Game 1 win in Toronto. Now yes, I hear you, they both won the series. As they both should’ve but the inconsistent play is what holds these two teams back.
*Photo via USA Today
The second seed, 55 game winning Toronto Raptors are playing their worst basketball all season, at the wrong time. To find the issue you don’t have to look far, it starts with their All-Star backcourt. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have been cold, well DeRozan has been cold, Lowry seems to be a bit more frozen. DeRozan is averaging five points less while shooting 11 percent lower from the field as well and a horrid 16 percent from deep. Luckily DeRozan has had key games in big time moments, primarily Game 7 in round one. Lowry on the other hand is making his own case for the worst player in postseason history thus far. In the regular season his career shooting numbers are 41 percent from the field and 35 percent from three. However, in four postseason appearances (this year being his fourth) he is shooting 34 percent from the field and 25 percent from deep. Major drop off when the games matter most. Now I won’t go as far to say he’s not clutch but more so he gets cold at the worst times. Currently Lowry is averaging 13.6 points per-game, seven assists while shooting 30 percent from the field and 15 percent from deep. Out of the 16 teams which were a part of the NBA playoffs, the Raptors are 13th, in points per-game at 93.1 while defensively they’re giving up around a point and a half more. That doesn’t fair well in the playoffs, the Raptors can only go as far as their two All-Stars can take them. While they did manage to win 55 games, this team in its current state doesn’t have enough to stop King James and the Cavs, even if they manage to survive the Heat.
How ironic that two years removed from four straight finals appearances and two NBA championships, Dwyane Wade and the Heat may be the final roadblock in LeBron's way to six straight final appearances. Now Miami has had their lows, and highs through 9 playoff games in 2016, yet it seems there isn’t much doubt that they will get through the struggling Raptors. Miami is averaging 98 points per-game, while winning by an average margin of seven. They’ve been the more complete team over the Raptors, and on their side is the experience of Wade, Joe Johnson and Luol Deng. When you look at the roster for Miami they arguably are playing their best basketball of the year. Wade has been in vintage form seemingly hitting everything needed in close late game situations. While Deng and Goran Dragic have finally hit their strides offensively. Along with the veterans leading the way you have guys such as Hassan Whiteside, who continues to control the paint. While the rookies of Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson have left their marks with valuable minutes.
*Photo via Getty
Can they slow down or even overtake the throne from King James and the Cavs? Realistically? No, Miami has without question become a threat to the Cavs, however, losing Chris Bosh for the season hurts. More so the Cavs are currently playing at a much higher level than any team in the East. LeBron James has entered into “Zero Dark Thirty-23” while Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love seem to have found their identity in this offense. Although the Heat are unlikely to win a seven game series versus the Cavs. They do in fact give LeBron and company the hardest fight en-route to the finals, but as it stands, neither team in the East are upsetting Cleveland.