They might be considered the underdogs and the odds are not in their favor, but the Toronto Raptors are using their hunger as their edge as they aim to disappoint LeBron James and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers with the start of their grueling seven games NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
The Raptors are in the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history, this the farthest they have to achieve after losing to the Philadelphia 76ers back in the 2000-2001 season semifinals with the 4-3 count. Since then it was a disappointment for the team losing all of their postseason matchups in the first round of the Playoffs, but, this time, the Raptors are using their hunger to feed that long drought that they have experience as they try to upset James this time in the Conference Finals.
Raptors fans are being called out on social media to post their sentiments using the #WeTheNorth and #RTZ. Raptors head coach Dwane Casey told reporters during the pre-game press conference that they have been in tough situations and the series with James and the Cavaliers is no difference, he added that they do not “fear” any team in the NBA.
“I don’t know of a team we’ve went against that we’ve feared,” Casey said.
The Raptors will be playing with an even smaller lineup as big man Jonas Valanciunas will not be playing in Game One due to a sprained right ankle, but it won’t pull down the morale of the Raptors as they have DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross and the rest of the team to hustle down and try to subdue James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.
On the other hand, Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said that they are still room for improvement for their team and they will try to work on mismatches as it presents itself as the series progresses, but he added that DeRozan and Lowry are the lethal combinations that they will try to suppress on their end.
“I think when you’re dealing with two great players, you have to mix it up,” Lue explained.
First, two games of the series will be played in Cleveland then will shift to the Raptors side for Games Three and Four while Games Five will be back in Cleveland and Games Six will be at the Raptors home court. A possible Game Seven will be hosted by the Cavaliers on May 30.
Photo Courtesy: Philadelphia 76ers/Flickr