This breakdown was very close to being this tweet and nothing else:
Cavs are great. Raptors are good. Great > good. Nothing more to see here.— Russell Peddle (@rustypedalbike) May 20, 2016
Truth be told, that's really what this series comes down to. Look at any line in the box score and you'll see evidence of one fact that barely requires any analysis at all:
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a better basketball team than the Toronto Raptors.
Game 1 put that on front street for everyone to see, Game 2 confirmed it. If the Raptors had adjusted and made a game out of it last night, maybe it would be a different story. Instead, through two games, Cleveland and Toronto barely seem like they play in the same league.
The Cavs destroyed the Raptors in the rebounding department in Game 1, winning the battle of the boards 45-23. In Game 2, Cleveland had the edge on the glass once again at 46-38. Closer? Yes. Still a problem? Absolutely.
But what will almost certainly prevail as the difference in this series is points in the paint. Cleveland destroyed Toronto in that area in Game 1, outscoring them 56-36 in the key. Game 2 was more of the same, as they held a 50-28 advantage in the painted area.
Three-pointers were supposed to be the Cavs' deadliest weapon in this series, but they've only hit seven in each of their two wins over the Raptors after averaging 16.8 per contest over their sweeps of the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks.
The Raptors are playing like they're terrified of the three-point line and it's leading to too many easy opportunities down low. The Cavaliers just have two many weapons at both the rim and from long range to concede either.
Seriously, when LeBron James' series shot chart looks like this, what hope do you have?
17-for-20 in the restricted area! 85.0%! My word.
Star power reigns
Speaking of LeBron, he casually dropped a 23-point, 11-rebound, 11-assist triple-double last night, while shooting 7-for-13 from the field (including another 6-for-8 in the restricted area). He's good, by the way:
LeBron James has passed Shaq for 4th on the NBA all-time postseason scoring list. pic.twitter.com/XrCCAZc1Gy— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 20, 2016
LeBron James finished with a 20-point triple-double in Game 2, passing Magic Johnson for most in playoff history. pic.twitter.com/NmkViH6UMc— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 20, 2016
Rounding out Cleveland's "Big Three", Kyrie Irving had 26 points on 12-for-22 shooting, four rebounds, and three assists, while Kevin Love poured in 19 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field and 8-for-9 from the charity stripe, while adding five rebounds, and three assists.
For Toronto, DeMar DeRozan continued his oddly OK shooting in this series (48.6% through two games), going 8-for-18 from the field and 6-for-6 from the line for 22 points. His All-Star counterpart, Kyle Lowry, had his second consecutive 4-for-14 shooting game, while going 1-for-8 from long range and 1-for-2 from the free throw line.
Lowry's all but disappeared since rattling off three straight monster performances at the end of the Heat series, while DeRozan hasn't been good enough to stave off Cleveland's star trio by himself.
The Cavs' three stars shot a combined 55.8% on 43 shots last night, while the Raps' two big names shot 37.5% on 32. In a league that's so star-driven, particularly when it comes to winning in the playoffs, Toronto just doesn't seem to have the talent to hang with Cleveland, plain and simple.
An adjustment that wasn't enough
The Raptors needed to make big changes after a 31-point blowout in Game 1 if they hoped to hang in this series.
It turns out, shockingly, that throwing Luis Scola back in the starting lineup for the first time since Game 4 of the Indiana series wasn't enough of an adjustment to make a difference.
Scola went 1-for-5 from the floor and 1-for-4 from long range, finishing with six points, three rebounds, and a plus-minus rating of -13 in only 14 minutes of playing time.
Patrick Patterson -- likely shifted back to a bench role to bolster the team's second unit -- only scored six points on two made threes and was a -15 in 28.6 minutes.
Back to the drawing board for Game 3.
Let's call a spade a Raptor
Here are some advanced stats for this series so far:
|Team||Off Rtg||Def Rtg||OREB%||DREB%||REB%||eFG%|
The Offensive/Defensive Rating splits tell enough of the story, but the rebounding and shooting differentials are too damning to leave unmentioned.
The Cavaliers are grabbing nearly 20% more of the available rebounds than the Raptors and have an Effective Field Goal Percentage (weighted twos and threes) that is almost 12% better.
Team B never beats Team A in this scenario. Never ever.
The Raptors will essentially need to be a completely different team if they hope to grab even one game from these steamrolling Cavaliers at this point -- a team that is 10-0 so far these playoffs and that has won 17 straight postseason games against Eastern Conference opponents.
A shift back to Toronto might help, but ESPN's Basketball Power Index already has the Cavaliers at a 93% chance to win this series. It's officially getting to the point where taking one of these next two games at home would make for one hell of a moral victory for the Raptors.
Let's put these last two games behind us and focus on that.