With the regular season coming closer to an end, everyone will make comparisons so why don’t we. Before I compared the Boston Celtics to the Cleveland Cavaliers as well as the Washington Wizards. The only other team in the Eastern Conference that can compete is the Toronto Raptors. Let’s see how the Raps can stack up position-by-position.
One of the more entertaining matchups is at point guard. Both Kyle Lowry and Kyrie Irving have had many electric moments in their respective careers. Lowry, who is a few years older than Irving, established his career in Toronto with different stints in Memphis and Houston. Lowry is a great scorer especially in transition. He is the perfect counterpart to DeMar DeRozan. This season Lowry is averaging a career-high 22.8 points per game and a career-high 4.9 rebounds per game. He is shooting 46 percent from the field as well. Irving is also averaging a career-high with 25.1 points per game. He is shooting 47 percent overall while hitting nearly three 3-pointers per game. In this matchup— I give the advantage to Kyrie Irving based on his more pure scoring.
The matchup at shooting guard is quite skewed as Raps’ guard DeMar DeRozan is one of the best players in the league. If he shoots a mid-range jumper, it’s almost a guarantee to go in. For the Cavs, the always electric J.R. Smith is a joy to watch when he is on fire. Smith hasn’t played much this year due to the finger injury that sidelined him for a few months. DeRozan on the other hand has been excellent. DeRozan is averaging a career-high 27.1 points per game on 47 percent shooting. Although Smith is a super underrated defender, DeRozan’s game is so hard to guard because of how tall he is and how he shoots. Smith can be hard to guard when hot but that doesn’t always happen. I give this matchup to DeMar DeRozan based on a thing such as being the Toronto Raptors all-time leading scorer.
This position is probably the most skewed and for good reason. On Toronto’s side, DeMarre Carroll signed with the Raptors two years ago and hasn’t done much since. LeBron James is having one of his best seasons. He has 10 triple-doubles this season which is a career-high. He’s one rebound and one assist away from averaging a triple-double for the year. His play this season has been much understated but has been great. Carroll is having his best season in Toronto to date. He’s shooting better and has actually played more than 26 games this time. Carroll’s injury limited him last year but that has changed this season. No matter what, Carroll has lost eight out of 10 games against LeBron in the playoffs. So of course— The matchup goes to LeBron James.
This matchup would not have been interesting a month ago but it is now. When Toronto acquired Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic, the Raptors got much better. For the Cavs, Kevin Love has been a mainstay in his three season in Cleveland. Ibaka brings a tough matchup for Love because of his ability to shoot from the outside. Unfortunately for Ibaka, Love’s ability to bully people down low could pose a problem for Toronto as it isn’t deep at that positon otherwise. Ibaka is a great shot blocker and Love knows how to avoid a shot blocker. In this matchup, Kevin Love’s smarts and skills win the battle.
Both teams have totally different centers. Tristan Thompson is a tenacious rebounder but without any scoring punch. Jonas Valanciunas is a much better scorer as well as a great free throw shooter for a big man. Things like that along with, Valanciunas has a career-high 9.6 rebounds per game and has 12 points per game. Two things Thompson has going for him is a career-high 9.6 rebounds per game and a career-high 1.1 blocks per game. Even with those things, Valanciunas’ offensive game is far beyond Thompson’s. Jonas Valanciunas takes this matchup by his offense and free throw shooting alone.
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