"Gotta go through the best to get to that trophy, every step of the way we're going to come across somebody. So why not the guy that's been in the finals the last X amount of years," DeMar DeRozan said. "Why we don't want to be the team that knock that team off? That's what it's all about."
Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs feels like a familiar song. But 2018 offers a different mix in the NBA playoffs.
The Raptors have the #1 seed and home-court advantage. The Raptors finished in 6 games while LeBron James and the Cavaliers went the distance. The Raptors are playing a new style of basketball and the Cavs don't look perfect.
For the first time since 2001, the Toronto Raptors won Game 1 in a playoff series. For the second time ever, the Raptors won a playoff series that didn't go the distance.
In 2016, Toronto won 2 games in the Eastern Conference final against the Cavs. In 2017, the Raptors went winless against Cleveland in the second round.
The "Bench Mob" has been a strength for the Raptors but in the Washington playoff series. Fred VanVleet has been injured but the bench came through well in the 4th quarter in Game 6. Toronto will need a healthy "Bench Mob" against Cleveland.
Game 3 brings a rare ABC appearance for the Raptors. Game 3 and Game 4 in Cleveland will be at a normal time as opposed to a 6 pm local start in Toronto for Game 2. LeBron James plays a lot of influence for the ABC telecast and relatively normal starting times.
Playing on the same night as the Boston-Philadelphia series seems rather unnecessary or at least have the games run simultaneously. If you work until 5 pm, getting to Game 2 will be a significant challenge for TTC to come through. A 6 pm Eastern start means most West Coast viewers watch at work.
Game 6 for the Toronto Raptors was simulcast in the United States on ESPNews and NBA TV. This isn't the first time the Raptors have been shifted down to ESPNews. CFL fans can relate to the love of being on ESPNews, but the choice there is being on TV vs. not being on TV.
ESPN had exclusivity on Friday. Good to have exclusivity when you have the channels and room to support that exclusivity. Can't see why TBS and TNT couldn't be involved.
If TSN and Rogers Sportsnet can figure out how to split the Raptors playoff games, the U.S. outlets should have an easier task.
2018 NBA Playoffs
|(1) Toronto vs. (4) Cleveland
Series tied 0-0
|Date||Location||Time||U.S. TV||Cdn TV|
|May 1||at Toronto||8p||TNT||TSN|
|May 3||at Toronto||6p||ESPN||SN One|
|May 5||at Cleveland||8:30p||ABC||SN One|
|May 7||at Cleveland||8:30p||TNT||TSN|
|May 9||at Toronto+||TBD||TNT||TSN|
|May 11||at Cleveland+||TBD||ESPN||Sportsnet|
|May 13||at Toronto+||TBD||TBD||TSN|
Times are Eastern Daylight
+ if needed
Toronto Raptors playoff history
photo credit: Brad Mills-USA Today Sports