The Toronto Raptors may have one of the best teams ever assembled North of the border, but their quest to bring an NBA championship to Canada faces one incredibly stiff hurdle — a man named LeBron James.
Some fans in Toronto were cautiously optimistic about playing the Cleveland Cavaliers again in this year’s playoffs. After all, last year the Raptors pushed the Cavs to six games in the Conference Finals before bowing out. Now LeBron is another year older, and the Cavs seemed to struggle at times this season, easily conceding the top spot in the East to the Boston Celtics down the regular season stretch.
Turns out the Cavs weren’t struggling at all. They were just resting.
After dispatching the Indiana Pacers in a four-game sweep in Round One, the Cavs hosted the Raptors for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal in Cleveland on Monday night. Those optimistic Toronto fans quickly retreated back behind their poutines and hockey sticks, because LeBron and the Cavs blow the doors down, jumping out to an early lead and never looking back.
This play, an alley-oop dunk from Kyrie Irving to James just three minutes into the opening frame, is basically all you need to know about how the game went.
Game 2 goes Wednesday night in Cleveland. To be fair, the Raptors were dominated in the first two games of last year’s playoff series between the two teams, before winning two straight at home to tie things up at 2-2. We’ll see if Toronto can regroup and make it a series.