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CLEVELAND — For the third time in as many postseasons Albert Wilson Jersey , the Cleveland Cavaliers enter Game 3 against the Toronto Raptors leading the series 2-0.
But this is the first time the third game was on Cleveland’s home floor. It’s an uh-oh moment for the Raptors, who were swept out of the Eastern Conference semis by the Cavs last season and are in danger of it happening again.
The Cavs would very much like for history to repeat itself.
“It’s one game at a time, and that’s the only way we should look at it,” said LeBron James, who in Game 2 became the first player in NBA history to score at least 40 points (43) with 14 assists in a playoff game.
“We will not put our guards down,” James said. “I won’t, so that’s going to trickle down to everybody else. Understanding that the series is never won until it’s over. You’ve got to win four games to get out of a series and it starts with the next game, so I will be as sharp as I was tonight.”
The Raptors finished the regular season atop the East and were the only team in the NBA ranked in the top five in offense and defense. But the Cavs are three-time defending conference champs. They are the ones playing with poise so far in this series.
Toronto has been outscored 34-8 in points off turnovers (Cleveland set a franchise record with just three turnovers in a 128-110 win in Game 2), and by 12 points in the fourth quarter. The Cavs opened the third quarter on an 18-5 spurt.
“We’re 0-2, we understand that,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “It’s hope Derek Rivers Jersey , it’s pride, it’s toughness. The toughness part is the part I didn’t think we played with last night. I thought we did in Game 1. We did in parts of last night. But we didn’t do it long enough. So it’s about grit, toughness.
“If you want to use the word hope … If we’re hoping we win, we shouldn’t be in the NBA,” Casey continued. “That’s not a good word to use if you’re a professional player.”
There’s more bad news coming for the Raptors. They didn’t win a playoff game in Cleveland in either of the previous two years, and have lost eight straight to the Cavs in the postseason overall dating to the 2016 conference finals.
Counting the regular season, the Raptors have dropped four straight against Cleveland, including two at Quicken Loans Arena.
Kevin Love has struggled for much of the postseason, but averaged 20.5 points and shot 66.7 percent from 3-point range in those two regular-season wins over Toronto. Naturally, he had his finest game of the 2018 playoffs in Game 2 with 31 points and 11 rebounds.
The Raptors continually switched smaller players onto Love in Game 2 and he dominated them. In Game 1 (Love was 3 of 13), Toronto used the 7-foot bruiser Jonas Valanciunas on Love and gave him fits.
“It felt nice to see those mismatches or even see the big out on the perimeter on me — whether it was Valanciunas or Siakam or Poeltl or whoever it was — I just kind of was able to get some easy buckets Will Dissly Jersey ,” Love said. “So that got me going early and Bron was looking for me and those guys helped me through it.”
So, in summation, it’s not looking good for the Raptors.
“Ain’t nothing changed,” Raptors reserve guard Fred VanVleet said. “There’s a reason why we are who we are. There’s a reason why we’re in the position we’re in. We get paid to do this. Obviously, it hasn’t been our best showing, down 0-2. But it’s the first to four. All we can worry about is going to Cleveland trying to get one.”
WASHINGTON — The Pittsburgh Penguins are hoping to have one of their primary weapons back in the lineup for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
Center Evgeni Malkin was a full participant in Saturday’s practice and coach Mike Sullivan said he will be a game-time decision Sunday afternoon.
Malkin has missed Pittsburgh’s last two games after suffering a lower-body injury in Game 4 of the series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“When you feel something wrong, you always hope it’s not going to be bad. You hope it’s small things,” Malkin told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “But sometimes you need time to recover. I’m trying to do my best. I can’t play last (game), but maybe (Sunday).”
The Penguins will be looking to go up 2-0 after Thursday night’s third-period rally.
Washington took a 1-0 lead just 17 seconds into Game 1 and had several odd-man rushes, something Pittsburgh worked on during Saturday’s practice.
“When we don’t pay attention to the details and support one another and make sure we get above the attack and get on the right side of people, then we are vulnerable to those types of circumstances Patrick Willis Jersey ,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told the Tribune-Review.
“I don’t think we did as good a job, especially early in the game. The first eight or nine minutes, we allowed a couple of odd-man rushes we can certainly do our part to limit and avoid just by attention to detail on our part.”
The Capitals are no strangers to being behind in a series, having lost the first two games at home to the Columbus Blue Jackets before winning four straight in the opening round. Washington lost the first two games at home against the Penguins a year ago but forced a Game 7 on home ice, which they lost.
Still, they will have to learn to handle prosperity better if they want to keep advancing. The Capitals have built a two-goal lead in five of their seven games this postseason. They have proceeded to lose the lead — and the game — three times.
“We want to play a lot of ways the same way to get the lead,” Washington coach Barry Trotz told The Washington Post. “The key to me is to not get on your heels, and I don’t think we’ve gotten on our heels a whole lot. But teams have been able to get back in the games.”
In addition to stopping Sydney Crosby, and possibly Malkin, the Capitals need to cool off Jake Guentzel, who has 16 points in the playoffs Marcus Allen Jersey , half of them in the last two games.
“It’s crazy,” Pittsburgh’s Patric Hornqvist told NHL.com. “He has eight points the last two games. I don’t think that happens too many times in playoff history. He takes the pucks to the net, he goes there and he seems to find every single puck there, so hopefully he will do the same thing (Sunday) and find those pucks.”
Linemates Guentzel, Hornqvist and Crosby accounted for Pittsburgh’s three third-period goals Thursday night.
“They don’t need a lot of chances,” Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen told NHL.com. “If they have one good look, they can snipe. But you can’t overthink it either. You’ve just got to play your game. But when it’s your guy, when it’s your turn to check, you’ve got to check hard and really take away their space.”
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