May 1, 2017, 9:09 pm
And so we enter the second round. LeBron and company easily contained the Raptors, but it was the Rockets who found themselves on the positive end of a blowout. With that, here’s Tuesday’s Daily Dish.
Cavs 116, Raptors 105
LeBron James owned this game from the jump, taking over in the third quarter to single handedly put Toronto away. He feasted on inattentive Raptors’ switches, thundering his way into the paint with little resistance to finish with 35 points, 10 boards, four assists, one steal and one block. DeMarre Carroll stands no chance of staying in front of LeBron, and the Raptors would be wise to give P.J. Tucker more run as his primary defender if they want to avoid being made a punchline all series long.
How much is LeBron worried about Toronto? This much pic.twitter.com/DeAcc1TMhL
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) May 2, 2017
Elsewhere for the Cavs, Kyrie Irving double-doubled with 24 points and 10 assists, while Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson did enough on the glass to keep the team humming down low. Outside of those four players, however, the Cavs didn’t have anyone record double figures in any counting category. They coasted tonight, but Cleveland will need more out of Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert if they hope to keep the good times rolling.
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan did what they could to keep the offense afloat, but the Raptors simply couldn’t keep their collective heads above water on the defensive end. Serge Ibaka was pulled away from the rim by Love, allowing a parade of dunks and layups for the Cavs perimeter stars. Jonas Valanciunas cannot hang with Love around the 3-point arc, but Toronto needs to find a way to utilize Ibaka’s shot blocking if they hope to bounce back on Wednesday.
Speaking of Valanciunas, both he and Carroll were putrid on both ends. We’ve mentioned their defensive struggles already, but it isn’t like these two were making up for it on the other end. They combined for just nine points on eight shots, and spent most of the evening completely absent from any meaningful action. Don’t be surprised if one or both of Norman Powell and Tucker sneaks into the starting lineup before this series is out.
Rockets 126, Spurs 99
The Spurs came into Game 1 intent on slowing James Harden and forcing Houston’s less intimidating offensive players to beat them. Early on, at least, they executed defensively. Harden was brilliant but San Antonio frequently forced him to dish the ball to less threatening options like Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela. Unfortunately for the Spurs, however, Ariza and Capela were up for the challenge, as the former was blazing hot from deep and the latter embarrassed opposing big men at the rim.
As Ariza and Capela forced open cracks in the Spurs’ usually tight defense, Harden and the long range trio of Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams found daylight. The rest, as they say, was history. Houston’s offense looked flawless for one night, but it’s fair to wonder if these types of performances from Capela and Ariza are sustainable.
The question that could define the series for the Spurs was made abundantly clear: who on this team can contribute offensively outside of Kawhi Leonard? Leonard was hardly his typically efficient self, but he was the only Spurs player to get anything going on Monday. Danny Green couldn’t find his shot, Pau Gasol looked over exposed and LaMarcus Aldridge was simply absent. The inimitable Greg Popovich undoubtedly has already planned his next set of moves and counter moves, but the Spurs looked lost in Game 1.
That’ll do it for this Tuesday’s dish. Follow @HoopBallTweets for up to the minute updates or hit me up on Twitter (@AbyssAlsoGazes) if you have any questions. See you all next week.