After the Toronto Raptors' heartbreaking Game 1 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst sat down with Zach Lowe on The Lowe Post Podcast to discuss, among other topics, how the Raptors can bounce back in Game 2.
This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
Zach Lowe: Maybe [the Raptors] don't have to do anything, but are there any ideas you have for stuff we might see in Game 2?
1. Raptors -- Stay out of no-man's land
Brian Windhorst: Honestly, I don't feel like the Raptors need to make major changes. They certainly, in my mind, won't make any lineup changes. I think they should feel good about what OG Anunoby did against LeBron James.
I'm sure in practice [Wednesday] and shootaround [Thursday] they'll go over some of what the Cavs were doing with their spread offensive actions, to not give up so many wide-open looks and stay attached a little bit more. I don't think it's an X and O game with them.
ZL: Their big men can't be in no-man's land against the Cavs. You're either helping or you're on shooters. And Serge Ibaka and a couple other guys were just caught in the in-between space where if they kick it to Kyle Korver, he can get his shot off. You just can't be there.
2. Raptors -- Play faster
Dave McMenamin: I think you have to give the ball to DeMar DeRozan more. I understood your point about Jonas Valanciunas, it's not like he completely bogs them down. And it's not like you want to get into a Russell Westbrook Game 6 situation where there's 43 shots, but he's going to get calls, he can get to the foul line, he's the one who got you there. He averaged 26 points per game against the Wizards in the first round. Give him an extra five, six shots. Or he should go take those extra five, six shots. That would be part of my game plan.
ZL: I don't disagree. I like DeRozan getting more shots. They like to run DeRozan/Kyle Lowry picks early in possessions and the Cavs were switching those and putting [George] Hill on DeRozan, and DeRozan was getting right to the basket. If they're going to switch that, just keep doing that.
The pace to me is the thing I'm going to watch most. The Raptors, you could tell in the first half it was a point of emphasis: off every miss we're running. Every single one. Kyle Lowry transition 3s, boom-boom-boom. Make [the Cavaliers] run. They're tired, they're old and the Raptors, for all the talk of the offensive reinvention and the passing, they -- over the last three years -- have jumped from 29th to [24th] to [14th] in pace. When they run, it's usually not the first guy who scores, but they get trail 3s and that's when they're at their best. I thought the Cavs dragged them back into the walk-it-up, switch, slow-it-down [pace]. The final pace of the game was 94 possessions which is super, super slow. That's too slow for Toronto and perfect for Cleveland.
3. Raptors -- Play OG Anunoby at power forward
I would like to see OG Anunoby play the 4. To the point of having two of their big guys guarding JR Smith and Kevin Love, the easiest way to solve that is to play Anunoby at the 4 and play another guard and take Ibaka out. Play Valanciunas at center, even play Ibaka at center. The problem with these Ibaka-at-center lineups is they're just better with Jonas or Jakob Poeltl at center. Their offense runs better. Ibaka is not impactful enough as an offensive player or on the glass.
BW: Ibaka at center during the regular season, the Cavs destroyed.
It was only three games, but the Cavs averaged more points against the Raptors in the regular season than any other Eastern Conference team. And more free throws.
DM: And one of those games they lost by 34 points.
1. Cavaliers -- Keep spacing the floor
BW: I think they really cause the Raptors problems by spreading the court, and it happened again [Tuesday] night. I know people are going to be surprised when they hear Tristan Thompson is not starting, because that lineup was so effective [in Game 1], but that's why Ty Lue is doubling down, because he knows that lineup is really effective when it's clicking.
And now a word about LeBron
DM: Are we giving too much credit to Anunoby, because LeBron is coming off a seven-game series where he averaged 42 minutes per game and had one day of rest, which was a travel day.
BW: He also keeps referring to his cramps as "an injury."
DM: Yeah, that's odd. I trust the impeccable Doris Burke, who asked a team official about it and they said that was accurate, what she reported.
BW: Yeah, he had cramps and they offered him an IV and he said no. I said he drank; I don't know what he drank. I don't know if there were various drinks you can drink to help, but he drank and he ate oranges.
ZL: If LeBron has anything wrong with him, obviously that's a complete game-changer.
DM: From the mood around the team, I don't think that's the case.
ZL: I think what we've learned, Bojan Bogdanovic is not a great defender, he's fine. Anunoby is the same.
BW: Bogdanovic had a miserable Game 7. Nobody really talked about it, but he was awful. As great as he was in Game 3, when he had the game of his life, he was as bad as he's ever been in Game 7.
ZL: Part of it was that, again, LeBron was like, "This is Game 7, it's do-or-die, I'm gonna get to the rim, I'm gonna bully you guys in a way I haven't done the whole game." I think part of why Anunoby looked pretty good is that LeBron's not going to do that until their backs are really against the wall.
But, if that's the way he's going to play, Anunoby can manage. He can survive. There's no containing, there's no stopping. He can survive.