Lawrence: Cavs Can Beat Raptors

Cleveland may beat Toronto, but the loss of Kyrie Irving will eventually catch up to LeBron James

May 01, 2018 - 8:38 am

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The Toronto Raptors won an East-leading 59 games this season, beat the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs, and have home-court advantage against LeBron James, who has perhaps his weakest supporting cast in a decade.

And Mitch Lawrence still doesn’t know if Toronto can beat Cleveland.

“I’ve got big concerns about Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan,” the NBA Radio host and Forbes & Sporting News NBA Writer said on Ferrall on the Bench. “Those guys, historically in the last couple of years, they cannot deal with LeBron James. I think they’ve got a mental thing. If they come out tight in Game 1 or 2 and the Cavaliers get a win in one of those first two games, I could see Cleveland beating Toronto in that series because they can’t deal with LeBron James.”

The Cavs swept the Raptors in the Eastern Conference semis last season. Toronto is 2-8 against Cleveland in the postseason since 2016.

“A lot of these playoff games come down to who can take out LeBron James,” Lawrence said. “The Warriors have guys who can do that. They’ve proven that. Nobody in the East has been able to do that – and I certainly have my doubts about the Toronto Raptors.”

The Cavs, to be fair, are not a great team. James averaged 34.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 7.7 against the Pacers – and still needed seven games to beat them.

“The absence, the loss, of Kyrie Irving is going to catch up to them at some point,” Lawrence said. “That’s why LeBron has to have these monster games – because he has nobody who can take over for him and score like Kyrie used to do when they went 36-5 in the last three years in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They won 36 of 41 games because no other team could match up with Kyrie. Now you remove that, and who’s the second banana there? Kevin Love? Come on. That’s a huge drop-off there, and I think that’s going to eventually catch up to LeBron.

“It took him seven games to beat (the Pacers),” Lawrence continued. “That’s an okay Indiana team. That’s not a great team he beat – and it took seven games to do it. It’s absurd.”

James, 33, also played 82 games this season for the first time in his career. He averaged 73 games over his previous three seasons.

“This is the one year he shouldn’t have played 82 games,” Lawrence said. “He was out of his mind to do that. He should have played 60 games and saved it for this playoff season because he might just run out of gas.”

Games 1 and 2 are Tuesday and Thursday in Toronto. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET, respectively.