The Toronto Raptors have battled throughout this year's NBA Playoffs, and now they have found themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history after dropping the Miami Heat in Game 7 on the semifinals.
The Raptors, however, will have their toughest test yet when they face the East-favorite Cleveland Cavaliers. While it is a battle of the No. 1 and 2 seed, it definitely doesn't seem like it...at all.
The Raptors have shown a lot of vulnerabilities and struggles throughout this year's playoffs. They barely got past the seventh-seed Indiana Pacers. They seemed lucky to get past Miami, too.
It's impressive they were able to muster two straight seven-game series wins, but Cleveland is a much different monster. Kyle Lowry will have the task of guarding Kyrie Irving, who has been on a tear this postseason. DeMar DeRozan will have to deal with the likes of JR Smith and LeBron James (DeMarre Carroll will have to deal with him, too).
Surprisingly, Toronto won the regular season series at 2-1. At one point in the year, many were wondering if the Raptors could snag the No. 1 seed away from Cleveland. It didn't end up happening, of course.
Despite what the regular season series suggests, the Eastern Conference Finals looks like it's going to have a much different outcome. With the way both teams have played this postseason, I think I'll take the Cavaliers in four.
Cleveland has been too dominant, and it looks like they are playing their basketball of the year right now. You're telling me the inconsistent tandem of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry is going to stop the three-headed monster of Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James? Give me a break.
Another big issue for Toronto is the Jonas Valanciunas situation. He's already been ruled out for Game 1, and we'll see if he's able to make any kind of impact in this series when or if he comes back.
Even then, Cleveland has guys like Love, Tristan Thompson, and Timofey Mozgov to deal with him. All they really need to is shut down Lowry and/or DeRozan, and this series is a wrap.
I think the Raptors, at most, can only snag one game in this series, and that will probably only happen at one of their two home games in the "6ix." Drake attending one of the games will hopefully give them somewhat of a boost, but the Cavs are definitely going to rain on this "Views" parade.
If Cleveland sweeps, they'll be the first team to win their first three rounds off sweeps en route to the NBA Finals since the league expanded the first-round games to seven-game series in 2007-08. I'll take them in four. At worst, I think they'll win in five. There's no way this series goes to six—no way.
It looks like Toronto's reign will end here, and LeBron James will see himself in his sixth straight NBA Finals appearance.
Seeing if his Cavaliers can defeat the Golden State Warriors or Oklahoma City Thunder is a question for later, though...