The Raptors may have exorcised some first-round demons in the 2018 NBA playoffs, while the Cavaliers may have developed some. Toronto dispatched the Washington Wizards in six games, while LeBron James and Cleveland needed a tough seven-game series to get through the Indiana Pacers.
But the good thing about the playoffs is that every series is different, so there’s rarely much carry-over. The Cavs aren’t playing the best basketball right now, but they’ve eliminated the Raptors in each of the past two seasons, which could give them some confidence. On the other hand, Toronto is playing with a new style and renewed confidence after being one of the best teams in the league during the regular season.
It should be a fun matchup. Below is the schedule, how to watch Game 1 and a preview of what we have to come.
Toronto Raptors (59-23) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32)
Playoff series schedule:
- Game 1 in Toronto: Tuesday, May 1, 8 p.m. ET, TNT
- Game 2 in Toronto: Thursday, May 3, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
- Game 3 in Cleveland: Saturday, May 5, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC
- Game 4 in Cleveland: Monday, May 7, 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT
- Game 5 in Toronto: Wednesday, May 9, TBD, TNT*
- Game 6 in Cleveland: Friday, May 11, TBD, ESPN *
- Game 7 in Toronto: Sunday, May 13, TBD*
* – If necessary
How to Watch Game 1
- Date: Tuesday, May 1
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- Location: Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada
- TV: TNT
- Live stream: TNTDrama.com or TNT App
Season series: Cavaliers won, 2-1
Last season’s playoff results: Raptors were eliminated in the second round by the Cleveland Cavaliers; Cavaliers were eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in NBA Finals
Raptors: Fred VanVleet (shoulder) played 19 minutes in Game 6 against the Wizards, and is expected to play in Game 1 vs Cavs.
Cavaliers: George Hill (back) played 19 minutes in Game 7 against the Pacers.
Toronto Raptors projected starting lineup: G Kyle Lowry; G DeMar DeRozan; F OG Anunoby; F Serge Ibaka; C Jonas Valanciunas
Cleveland Cavaliers projected starting lineup: G George Hill; G JR Smith; G Kyle Korver; F LeBron James; F Kevin Love
Raptors win if:
The Raptors have had their struggles with the Cavs in the past, but there’s a huge difference this year: On paper, they are unquestionably the better team. If Lowry and DeRozan play the way they’ve been playing and the offense continues it’s sharing ways, they should be able to beat the Cavs. Defensively they have the pieces and system to at least bother LeBron enough to make him work. One key to the series will be Toronto’s bench, where they have a huge advantage, which will allow them to go on big runs when LeBron is out of the game.
Cavaliers win if:
LeBron carried the Cavs to a first-round win pretty much by himself — he won’t be able to do that against the Raptors because they’re just too good. Each member of Cleveland’s supporting cast showed flashes during the opening round, but they’re all going to have to be much more consistent for the Cavs to pull this one out. It starts with Love, who has to play like the All-Star that he is.