Eastern Conference Semi-Final Preview- Raptors vs Cavaliers

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"I'm ready to take it to another level".

The comments were entirely understandable, given he was coming off a tiring seven-game series with the Indiana Pacers.

Raptors fans, did you ever really think you wouldn't have to go through LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in these playoffs? They have to trust the vets who've been there before.

James did get some help in Game 7 against in from Toronto-native Tristan Thompson, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Anthony Davis will have to play out of his mind to keep them close.

To put more emphasis on how outmatched Cleveland is, the Cavs second leading scorer is Kevin Love with 11.4 PTS. They took a Miami Heat with an aging Dwyane Wade to seven games in 2016. This was his 87th career game in the playoffs.

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For the fourth time in the series, and the 34th time this season, Lue used a different starting five. "At the end of the day we've all got to D one as a team, lock in on individual players, team-wise show LeBron as many bodies as we can", DeRozan said. Bojan Bogdanovic's 3-pointer gave the Pacers their first lead at 59-58 with 7:13 to go in the quarter. Last year it was in round two, the year previous it was the Eastern Conference Final. Toronto kicks off the conference semifinals as a heavy favorite (88 percent chance to win the series) over Cleveland, according to the Basketball Power Index - which has been down on the Cavaliers all season.

Anything else they get from one of their younger players is gravy, and the experienced gained in this wringer of a series against the Pacers should help them. Good Lord. Six of the wins came by at least 19 points.

"Nobody thought we were going to be here", Oladipo said.

Lue noted that James only looks exhausted "after the game, but not during the game".

James praised Hill and Thompson.

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Thompson is a bonus player offensively, his baskets largely come on hustle plays usually consisting of dump-offs at the rim off penetration and putbacks after offensive rebounds. Celebrated the 42nd anniversary of the "Miracle at Richfield" in 1976, when the Cavs defeated the Washington Bullets in Game 7 of the conference semifinals. Jordan Clarkson' favourite play is dribble seven times and take a contested jump shot. DeRozan is putting up 26.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per matchup.

When Raptors coach Dwane Casey was asked what his team could learn from the way the Pacers played the Cavaliers, he said: "Playing hard". The Raptors are favored by 6 points heading into Game 1.

Why? I do it out of the kindness of my heart for those around me. "We all have that confidence in ourselves".

While Lowry has certainly played worse in the playoffs nearly annually, I'll focus on DeRozan. And we're still putting things together. The Pacers were terrific defensively in game 6, and must employ the same game plan and strategy if they are going to win the series. Larry Nance Jr. did well as a rim runner, but his defense left lots to be desired. He finished the pivotal Game 7 with 45 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and four steals in 43 minutes. It was 12 when Love knocked down another 3 50 seconds later.

P.J. Tucker and his quick hands, veteran savvy and brute strength isn't around to guard LeBon one-on-one, but OG Anunoby is game and said Monday that he believes he is strong enough to hang with the powerhouse.

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