Have LeBron James & The Cavaliers Become The Favorites To Win The 2016 NBA Finals?
The Toronto Raptors are lucky to be in the Eastern Conference Finals right now. In their first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, they needed all seven games to knock off a team that finished with the seventh-best record in the conference. In their second-round series, they squeaked by the Miami Heat—again, in seven games—as their star Kyle Lowry finally started to look like himself again after struggling at the start of the series. But in the ECF, it looks like the Raptors’ luck might finally run out.
Game 1 of the series was a 115-84 blowout. The Cleveland Cavaliers came out looking like the fresher team, thanks to a nine-day layoff between their sweep of the Atlanta Hawks and the start of the ECF. But even if they had gone to five or six games in that series, it really didn’t look like it would have made any difference. They played inspired basketball against the Raptors, and LeBron James appeared to be a man on a mission. He has heard the critics giving the Golden State Warriors props for being the best team in the league this year—and frankly, one of the best NBA teams ever—and he looks like he’s out to prove that the Cavaliers deserve to be in the best team discussion as well. His running mates Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are both playing their roles right now, too. It’s a completely different team from the one that struggled at times during the regular season and earned wins based on their individual talents as opposed to their ability to gel as a cohesive unit.
That’s bad news—awful news really–for the Raptors. Because while they’ve made the most of their No. 2 seed in the playoffs up until this point and played well enough to win games, they stand almost no chance against the Cavaliers. They might—key word, might—be able to eek out a win once they get back to Toronto, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see the Cavaliers sweep the series. And if they do, the Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder will both need to be on high alert. Because whichever of those two teams is forced to face the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals will have a tall task on their hands.
Don’t look now, but the Cavaliers look like they just might be the favorite to win the title this season. And over the next week, that won’t bode well for the Raptors.