The Cleveland Cavaliers return home now with the pivotal Game 5 tonight and a 3-2 series lead on the line against the Toronto Raptors. Through the first two games, it looked like this series would be a cakewalk. In the last two games, this has looked like a tight series that can go either way. Here are the five things the Cavs need to do to win tonight’s big Game 5 and take a 3-2 lead into Toronto for Game 6.
*All stats courtesy of NBA.com/Stats and Basketball Reference
5. Get Back To Attacking The Paint
In the first two games of the series, the Cavs averaged a whopping 53 points in the paint, led by LeBron James’ 18 points and Kyrie Irving’s 12 points in the paint per game. In the two losses on the road? 28 points in the paint per game, led by LeBron James’ 13 point average. The next highest is Richard Jefferson with six points in the paint per game. Kyrie Irving, who lives on getting to the basket, has a combined six points in the paint in two games after putting up a combined 24 in the first two games.
There’s no denying the effect that Bismack Biyombo has on defending the paint, but playing Kevin Love and Channing Frye will help spread the floor and open up some driving lanes for James and Irving. In the 4th quater of Game 4, the Cavs got to the paint over and over again by dragging Biyombo out of the paint and forcing him to guard the sizzling-Channing Frye.
Click “Next” to see the fourth most important change the Cavs need to make to win Game 5!
4. Lock in on Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan
Of course, the regular season doesn’t mean too much right now, by Kyle Lowry shot 42.7% and DeMar DeRozan shot 44.6% during the regular season. Game’s 1 and 2 were indicative of how the production the Cavs need to hold the duo to. Game’s 3 and 4 were downright poor, and the duo can’t be allowed to shoot that well tonight. If they do, the Cavs will be in trouble. The key will be to make DeRozan shoot contested outside jumpers while forcing Lowry off the three point line to drive into Cavs help defenders.
Game 1: 4/14, 0-7 3PT – 8 points, CLE wins
Game 2: 4/14, 1-8 3PT – 10 points, CLE wins
Game 3: 7/13, 4-8 3PT – 20 points, TOR wins
Game 4: 14/20, 4-7 3PT – 35 points, TOR wins
Game 1: 9/17 – 18 points, CLE wins
Game 2: 8/18 – 22 points, CLE wins
Game 3: 12/24 – 32 points, TOR wins
Game 4: 14/23 – 32 points, TOR wins
Click “Next” to see the third most important change the Cavs need to make to win Game 5!
3. Short Leash On Kevin Love/Tristan Thompson?
When Tristan Thompson rebounds and Kevin Love is knocking down his outside shots, the Cavs have played at an incredible pace. Bismack Biyombo has outrebounded Thompson 40-17 and Kevin Love shot a combined 5-23 from the field for 13 points in the two games in Toronto.
Thompson’s job is to defend the rim and rebound the ball. If he can’t do that well, it might be time to but his minutes short in favor of Channing Frye. Same might apply for Kevin Love, because he seems to have fallen in love with the outside shot, and if that’s not going, he’s not helping his team at all. Richard Jefferson was in the lineup that sparked the incredible 11-for-11 start to the fourth quarter of Game 4, and has stepped up in big games.
Click “Next” to see the second most important change the Cavs need to make to win Game 5!
2. Play The Hell Out Of Channing Frye At The 5
David Griffin went out and traded a fan favorite in Anderson Varejao for the sharpshooter Channing Frye for a reason. It’s time to really put him to good use. Tyronn Lue has used him well this postseason, but he should be looking to play around 25 minutes a night to spread the floor for LeBron and Kyrie.
Frye is not going to play over 30 minutes, but his per-36 minute numbers are at 21 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 5.6 three-pointers per game. This entire series, Frye has been shooting 58% from downtown, and 57.5% in the entire postseason. He’s an absolute sniper from downtown who also plays the power forward and center position. Let’s use him!
Click “Next” to see the final and most important change the Cavs need to make to win Game 5!
1. Defense To Offense
The Cavs offense this postseason has been fueled by their ability to get stops on defense. Most of the damage in Games 1 and 2 was done in the paint for the Cavs. Whether it was the forcing of turnovers that lead to fast breaks or the half-court offense that broke down Toronto, the Cavs defense ignited the crowd and the Cavaliers offense.