Kevin Love on the new dynamic Serge Ibaka offers the Raptors
The Cleveland Cavaliers will be taking on the Toronto Raptors in the 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals. While it’ll be a rematch of the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals, it’ll be a matchup of two slightly different teams. The Cavs haven’t changed as much since last year’s championship; the Raptors, however, have a new look with the offseason additions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker.
“Just a different dynamic,” Love said of Ibaka. “Definitely shooters with both him and [Patrick] Patterson out there. He brings a ton of energy. Played really well in round one, so he just gives them a whole different look and a guy who has a ton of playoff experience coming from Oklahoma City. Obviously getting traded from Orlando, but all his playoff experience being there and playing in a lot of big games. He really helps them.”
The Raptors acquired Ibaka in a mid-season trade with the Orlando Magic, giving up guard Terrence Ross in the process. In 23 games with Canada’s lone basketball team, Ibaka has averaged 14.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 46% shooting from the field. In the first round of the playoffs, he has averaged 12.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 2.3 blocks in six games against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“Adds a veteran, for one, a guy that has experience, Finals experience as well,” James added about Ibaka. “And also a guy who can stretch the floor and create, also protect the rim at times. It definitely helped them out, was a good piece for them.”
It’ll be interesting to see how the Raptors use Ibaka and how it’ll change the game for the Cavaliers. Both teams are relatively healthy and this series should make for an interesting second-round matchup for Cleveland.