NBA

History working against Raptors in Game 2 vs. Cavs

CLEVELAND -- The Toronto Raptors are not going to concern themselves with LeBron James' in-game drinking habits as they prepare for Game 2 against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

Watch Cavs Live pregame at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports Ohio

While the Cavaliers were cruising toward a 116-105 win on Monday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series, and with James on his way to a 35-point, 10-rebound effort, the Cleveland star grabbed a bottle of beer from a vendor during the fourth quarter after he was fouled near the sideline.

James then put the bottle close to his lips and stopped short of taking a sip. And stopped short of showing up the Raptors worse than he already had.

"That's them," Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan said Tuesday. "Every team LeBron's been on, they've done some kind of whatever. We can't get caught up in making that part of the game. We go out there and control what we can control and ask for us to get a win."

Get a win. The Raptors could use one of those.

In their five playoff losses to Cleveland dating back to last year's conference finals, Game 1 on Monday was the closest. However, the Cavs were up by 20 with about three minutes left when they pulled all their starters, so this one was really about as lopsided as all the others.

The Raptors historically have struggled in Game 1 of a playoff series, owning a 1-12 record all time in those contests. They could level the series with a win in Game 2 on Wednesday, but they are 1-5 in Game 2s on the road and have never won a playoff series when trailing 0-2 (going 0-8).

Oh, and James has won at least one road playoff game in 27 consecutive series. That is how a long series can suddenly feel really, really short before both teams have hosted a game.

"They're a very good team," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "We all know that. We're a good team, too. Had the same record. We gotta go in with that confidence and that feeling of understanding they put their pants on one leg at a time, too. And one shoe at a time. I haven't seen them jump in and pull them up at the same time. So we gotta go in with that belief, that understanding. And I have a belief that we will play better and get to that next level next game."

The Raptors could tinker with the lineup by going back to Norman Powell instead of Jonas Valanciunas -- which was how they won the last three games of their first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. Or they could swap P.J. Tucker with DeMarre Carroll. Tucker had 13 points and 11 boards off the bench Monday.

The Cavs need to change little from Game 1, or really from much of anything they have done against the Raptors in the postseason. Or, for that matter, against the East.

Dating back to the 2015 playoffs, Cleveland is 29-4 against the East and 16-1 at home. The Cavs are 5-0 in the 2017 playoffs and are averaging 113.4 points (and 13.6 3-pointers) per game.

"I think they pretty much know what's at stake, and we've got a mature group," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "We know that it's only one game, they're a good team and we can't get ahead of ourselves."

As for James and that bottle of brew -- he said if the vendor had been carrying "red wine, I probably would've definitely taken a sip."

He needs 25 points to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762 points) for second place in NBA playoff scoring history. In the 2017 postseason, he is averaging 33.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 8.0 assists.

"I'm OK with where we're headed," James said. "I'm not pleased. I'm not satisfied. It's still so early. But at the end of the day, I feel like we're making progress towards being a team that we want to become, and (Monday) was another step in the right direction."