Toronto Raptors: Rolling at the Right Time

Five Keys Cavaliers vs. Raptors   
    
      
  Mark Blinch  NBAE via Getty Images

As of April 3, the Cavs are the No. 3 seed, meaning they can expect to face the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs.

As a result, Wednesday's showdown will determine the tiebreaker - with the Celtics getting it via head-to-head record if they win and the Raptors getting it via division record or, if necessary, conference record if they win - and could ultimately decide who claims that coveted top seed. The 6-8, 250-pounder continually overpowered smaller players in the paint and either scored, got fouled or both en route to a nine-point quarter. The Cavaliers lead the Central Division and sit third in the conference but are eight games back of the Raptors. Even if you wave away the 2014 first-round loss to a veteran Brooklyn team, the Raptors were swept in the first round the following year and struggled mightily in 2016. Point guard Kyle Lowry, a 16.5-point scorer who attended alma mater Villanova's win over MI in the NCAA championship game Monday, had five points on 2-for-11 shooting while being defended primarily by Calderon. They have been fantastic once again this season. "And then all those things figure themselves out at the end".

Jonas Valanciunas has averaged 15.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over the last five games for Toronto. The other guard, Lowry is also scoring, but is known for his ability to pass the ball. In an ugly win against the tanking Dallas Mavericks, he shook off a rough shooting game and canned two backbreaking 3-pointers.

Boston's top scorer is guard Kyrie Irving.

Terry Rozier: He has been playing at such a high level recently, it was only a matter of time before he had a bad game which was indeed what happened on Wednesday at Toronto.

It will not have the significance of a playoff game but could have an influence on the postseason.

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Jaylen Brown and Monroe each scored five points in the first as Boston led 20-14 after one.

Cleveland ranks 15th in second chance points allowed per game (12.7) while Toronto ranks 25th (13.3).

With the Boston Celtics beating the Raptors earlier this week, there is going to be some revenge factor for the home team. And Rodriguez and Jose and all those guys, they were just really smart and they were never going to beat themselves.

Something in particular Burke - the 2018 Basketball Hall of Fame Curt Gowdy Media Award victor - has noticed is all of the shots fired Toronto's way and how little praise the East's first place team has received. Lose their third consecutive game, and the door stays open for Boston to grab it for the second straight season. Games involving the Cavaliers have a slight tendency to go over the projected point total (49.4 percent).

Conversely, a couple of strong showings against the teams they should be measuring themselves up against, maybe a pair of big late-season wins, could give them the edge they need.

Austin hosts South Bay on Thursday in the Western Conference finals, while Raptors 905 visits Erie on Friday to determine the East victor. The two both had a plus-minus of -13 and -10 respectively, but that was due in large part to matching minutes against the Cavaliers star LeBron James. Those are all questions for the future.

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