CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers have never lost a postseason series after taking a 2-0 lead, and taking a two-game lead over the Toronto Raptors at Quicken Loans Arena in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals tonight is exactly what they have a chance to do.
But before the Cavaliers can talk about taking a 2-0 lead over the Raptors, who pushed Cleveland to six games in the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago, they must focus on the tasks at hand.
Here are three keys to victory for the Cavaliers in their Game 2 matchup.
MAINTAINING AGGRESSIVENESS ON OFFENSE
The Cavaliers looked as though they put in plenty of work during the eight-day break in-between the first and second rounds of the 2017 NBA Playoffs, as they pushed the pace of play all the way to a 116-105 victory Monday night.
As a team, the Cavaliers converted 39 of their 85 looks, including 14 of their 34 three-point tries on the way to building a lead as large as 25 points during the third quarter.
Additionally, the Cavaliers sunk 24 of their 29 free-throw attempts, which, at times, was a struggle for them during the four-game sweep of the Pacers.
Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving loves to push the pace, and he put that on display in the Game 1 victory.
After previously going without an assist in Game 4 against the Pacers in the first round, Irving handed out a single-game postseason career high 10 playmakers against the Raptors, and that level of unselfishness was contagious.
Led by Irving’s 10 helpers, the Cavaliers had 26 assists on their 39 made baskets.
Irving’s most recognizable assist in Monday’s win came on an alley-oop to small forward LeBron James.
Less than three minutes into the first quarter, James got a steal and kicked it out to Irving, who drove to the lane and threw the ball off of the backboard back to James for a left-handed dunk that brought the crowd to its feet and the Raptors to a timeout.
Although James is the unquestioned leader on the offensive and defensive sides of the floor, he will need plenty of help to beat the Raptors and get one step closer to the ultimate goal of a second straight NBA Championship.
And help is exactly what they got in Monday night’s win.
James scored a game-high 35 points on 13-of-23 shooting and finished off a double-double with 10 rebounds over 42 minutes of play. Additionally, James assisted on four baskets, stole one pass and blocked a shot in the winning effort.
In addition to James, the Cavaliers got double-digit scoring efforts from Irving (24 points), power forward Kevin Love (18) and center Tristan Thompson (11). Both Thompson (11 points, 14 rebounds) and Irving (24 points, 10 assists) finished off double-doubles in the victory.
Although no one off the bench scored in double figures in Game, five players completed to score 22 points on nine-of-21 shooting, including a four-for-11 showing from three-point range.