When it comes to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have lost two games after a 10-0 start to the postseason, we can talk about LeBron James, we can talk about the role players, and we can even talk about the coaching as reasons why the Cavs have suddenly struggled.
Ethan Skolnick doesn’t want to talk about any of that – because to him, none of that is why the Cavs are suddenly in a dog fight with the Raptors.
“Really, it comes down to this: If they’re going to win a championship, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love need to prove that they’re star-level superstar players,” the NBA insider said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “That’s what matters. LeBron is going to be LeBron. The reserve players and the other supporting Cavs are going to play off of LeBron. But are Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love up to the quality that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were during the middle two seasons in particular in Miami? From being around them every day last year, I still have my doubts. Kevin doesn’t defend all that well all the time, and Kyrie definitely doesn’t defend all that well all the time, as dynamic as he can be offensively.
“That’s what this is going to come down to,” Skolnick continued. “You look at the last two games, Kyrie and Kevin didn’t play well. The first two games in Cleveland, they played well and they won easily. If they play well, they can compete with anybody, but I don’t know if I trust them to play well enough to win a championship this season.”
Or potentially well enough to win the East. Toronto should have all the confidence in the world heading into Game 5 on Wednesday.
Still, Skolnick thinks the Cavs will pull it out.
“I’d be surprised – really surprised – if they lose this series,” Skolnick said. “I know we’re going to talk about how they’ve imploded at times and all the rest, but I just can’t see LeBron letting it happen. No disrespect to Toronto. I covered the entire series against the Heat. I think they’re a resilient team. I think sometimes they panic, and that happened (in Game 4) but they collected themselves.”
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined to score 52 points in Game 3 and 67 points in Game 4 – this after combining for just 26 in Game 1 and and 32 in Game 2.
If the Raptors hope to win another game, much less the series, they’ll need less of the former and more of the later from Lowry and DeRozan.
“Can you get the two of them to give you consistency enough to be able to beat LeBron James?’ Skolnick asked. “With Cleveland having two of the last three at home, I find it really hard to believe the Raptors could pull off this series.”