NBA Analyst: Raptors Must Conquer Cavs; West Is "A Bowl Of Spaghetti"

While the West is "a mess," a Raptors/Cavs showdown looms in the East, Dave DuFour says

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
April 04, 2018 - 9:22 am

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If you look at the NBA standings, you’ll notice that the Western Conference is a bit of a quagmire. Sure, the Rockets (63-15) and Warriors (57-21) are clearly the two best teams, but teams four through 10 – from Utah (45-33) to the Clippers (42-36) – are separated by just three games.

That’s absurd.

“It’s like a bowl of spaghetti right now; it’s just a mess,” RealGM and BBallBreakdown NBA analyst Dave DuFour said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “We could wind up with the Nuggets as the 4-seed if things broke right.”

That’s right. Denver (43-35), which is currently out of the playoffs, could wind up hosting a first-round series. 

“It’s going to be absolutely insane,” DuFour said. “This is going to come down to next Wednesday, the final night of the season. The Nuggets play the Timberwolves, and it very much could be for the last spot in the playoffs. I can’t remember a season like this.”

The East, meanwhile, is a little more straightforward. You’ve the Raptors (55-22), the Celtics (53-24) and the Cavs (48-30), and that’s pretty much it. The Cavs are third in the East but has won nine of 10 overall, with two of those wins coming against Toronto, including Tuesday’s 112-106 win in Cleveland.

“At the end of the day, they still have LeBron James, and they still have Kevin Love,” DuFour said. “That’s two of the best players in the Eastern Conference. LeBron, right now, is on a whole other level, and Toronto is sputtering a little bit as of late.”

Indeed, the Raptors are 5-5 over their last 10 games.

“I think it’s a little bit of end-of-season blues,” DuFour said. “They’re ready for the playoffs to start. They’ve been ready for the playoffs for about a month. So it’s easy to throw out the game from tonight and ignore it. I need to see this in the playoffs. This is a series I need to see. I need to know once and for all, can the Raptors do it?” 

The Raptors are 2-8 against the Cavs over the last two postseasons. As of now, they would meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. 

“If you look at the championship narratives for a lot of teams going back 30 years – the Bulls had to go through the Pistons. LeBron and the Heat, they had to go through Boston,” DuFour said. “I think this sort of thing is character-building for these teams. So if the Raptors are going to do it, they’re going to have to go through Cleveland. It is just the law of basketball. That’s just how it works.”