The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Toronto Raptors, 113-112, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre. LeBron James established another impressive performance, posting 26 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds and two blocks on 47 minutes on the floor. With their victory, ESPN’s First Take Stephen A. Smith has come to a conclusion that James is the Raptors’ “Kryptonite,” per Daily Express.
Since returning to Cleveland, LeBron James has prevented the Raptors from dominating the Eastern Conference. In the 2016 playoffs, the Raptors, led by DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, made their first appearance in the conference finals but were eliminated by the Cavaliers in just six games. Things got worse for the Raptors in the 2017 playoffs as James’ Cavs swept them in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
However, the Cavs’ Game 1 victory is not all about LeBron James. As a matter of fact, the Raptors held James to 12-of-30 shooting from the field and 1-of-8 from beyond the arc. He also missed an open shot in the final seconds of the fourth quarter that could have prevented the game from reaching overtime. Despite finishing with a triple-double, James called Game 1 against the Raptors “probably one of my worst games of the season,” per ESPN.
Smith may have given James the title as the Raptor’s “Kryptonite,” but he also has some high praise for his teammates for their recent win. Smith believes Tristan Thompson was “sensational” on Tuesday night after posting 14 points and 12 rebounds on 62.5 percent shooting from the field. J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver, and Jeff Green have also made huge contributions on the offensive ends of the floor, scoring 20 points, 19 points, and 16 points, respectively.
Masai Ujiri told @YahooSportsNBA nine months ago that he wasn't going "to run & hide under the table" to build a team that could compete with LeBron James: “Our job is to beat him." Now the Raptors finally have their chance. A look back https://t.co/WKANakJOhm
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) May 1, 2018
Thompson, Smith, Korver, and Green also made up for Kevin Love, who finished the game with an embarrassing seven points on 23.1 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from the beyond the arc. Since Kyrie Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics, Love was expected to be the Cavaliers’ second option on the offensive ends of the floor. Unfortunately, the 29-year-old power forward failed to live up to expectations and has been a huge disappointment in the playoffs.
Luckily, some of their teammates are stepping up to help LeBron James. However, the Cavaliers will be needing him to excel in order to fully dominate the Eastern Conference this season. Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Cavaliers and the Raptors will be on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre.