Raptors' Kyle Lowry on beating Cavs: 'Maybe our chance is to get that 1 seed'
Toronto was only a win away from Cleveland's total last season
The Toronto Raptors were the Cleveland Cavaliers' chief competitor in the Eastern Conference last season. Toronto won 56 games in the regular season, one short of Cleveland's total, and it took two games from the eventual champions in the Eastern Conference finals. In that series, though, the Raptors lost the three games at Quicken Loans Arena by margins of 31, 19 and 38 points. That's why guard Kyle Lowry, in an interview with NBA.com's David Aldridge, said that they might need to get the No. 1 seed in order to topple the Cavs in the playoffs:
Me: So what do you have to do to beat that team two more times?
KL: Stop LeBron. Stop Kyrie.
Me: A little easier said than done.
KL: I think it's just focus, and being better. Take the experience of what they did to us and learn from it. We couldn't win a game (in Cleveland) in the playoffs, couldn't get close. We have to find a way to win a game on the road, especially them having the one seed. But maybe our chance is to get that one seed. That would help, to have home court advantage. But for us even to get to that point, we have to start somewhere, and it starts in Detroit on opening night.
Anyone else immediately think of the 2013-14 Indiana Pacers? After losing to the Miami Heat in the conference finals the previous season, they made it known that they aimed to take the top spot so they would have a better chance in a rematch. Those Pacers won 11 of their first 12 games, were one of two teams to win 40 games before the All-Star break and finished the season first in the East despite a poor March and April. They indeed met the Heat in the conference finals, but they lost in six games.
It's not crazy to think that Toronto could outperform the Cavs in the regular season. The Raptors were one of the most consistent teams in the league last season before the playoffs started, while Cleveland had a tendency to take its collective foot off the gas. Unquestionably, the Raptors' chances against the defending champs in a potential series would be much better if they had home-court advantage. This should be their goal.
Realistically, though, almost nobody will pick Toronto to make the NBA Finals over LeBron James and the Cavs, even if the Raptors have an incredible regular season. James has been to six straight Finals for a reason, and he has proven on multiple occasions -- most recently when down 3-1 against the best regular-season team in NBA history -- that his teams do not need home-court advantage to prevail.
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