Welcome to '3 Shots': My top three observations as the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Toronto Raptors in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals as I greet you from Quicken Loans Arena. Cavs lead at the half, 62-48.
1. Toronto made not one, but two starting lineup changes to begin tonight.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey had hinted that some changes could be coming, but I'm not sure anyone expected two different players in his starting 5. In were Norman Powell and Patrick Patterson, out went Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll.
Did it make a difference? Not in the early going as the Cavaliers went on an early 12-0 run for a 19-9 lead before Casey inserted Valanciunas.
Valanciunas made an impact on offense, scoring 10 first-quarter points after being put in the game. However, he had major issues defensively locating Channing Frye on the perimeter when the Cavaliers went to their stretch lineup.
So to borrow a line from my friend Danielle Serino, I'll VERIFY that the starting lineup change made no impact as the Cavs led after one quarter, 34-22.
2. LeBron James is reverting to his football days at SVSM again.
It's interesting to watch how the Cavaliers are approaching the Raptors defensively. To this point, DeMar DeRozan has been a non-factor in this series. Now normally I'd think that was because LeBron James was matched up man-for-man against him. But watching LeBron up close, the Cavaliers are almost treating him like a 'free safety' in football and letting him roam around the paint and play the passing lanes. His anticipation accounted for two steals and a blocked shot in the first quarter.
LeBron James, the wide receiver, is still waiting for his first touchdown catch of the night from quarterback Kevin Love.
3. The Cavaliers were LIGHTS OUT shooting from 3-point range
As I'm writing this, the Cavs are 8-8 from beyond the three point line. LeBron hit back-to-back threes from the exact same spot on the right wing. Should we be surprised? Not so much considering our photojournalist Pat Chiesa caught LBJ putting up this performance during warmups:
Channing Frye was 3-3 from downtown in the first half, LeBron James and J.R. Smith each hit a pair of triples, while Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert and Kyrie Irving added one apiece. 10-15 in all.