Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Raptors and Cavaliers begin their second round series in Cleveland. After defeating the Bucks in six hard-fought games, the Raptors need to step up their game if they want to knock the king off his throne. LeBron James has been to the NBA Finals in each of the last six seasons. The Cavaliers had time to rest because of their short four game sweep of the Indiana Pacers in the first round. Although they will be the favorites in this series, they have shown a propensity for underachieving all season. The Raptors added Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline in an attempt to get over their playoff woes and defeat the defending NBA champions. Tucker will be tasked with guarding LeBron James, which is something that he’s capable of doing at a higher level than most wing defenders. There isn’t a player in the NBA that can stop LeBron James, but Tucker has the ability to limit his impact. Since both teams have had highs and lows throughout the season, anything can happen in this series.
Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs: The Rockets and Spurs begin their second round series in San Antonio. The Rockets defeat Russell Westbrook (not the Oklahoma City Thunder) in five games in their first round playoff series. The Spurs needed six tough games to defeat the “Grit and Grind” Memphis Grizzlies in their first round playoff series. Although the Spurs are the higher seeded team, many experts are picking the Rockets to advance to the conference finals. These teams are evenly matched, so it should be an extremely competitive series. The Spurs have the advantage of having Gregg Popovich and a championship pedigree, whereas the Rockets have MVP candidate James Harden and the most electric offense in the NBA other than the Golden State Warriors. The Spurs have the best defensive player in the NBA in Kawhi Leonard, and it will be interesting to see if coach Popovich matches him up against James Harden. As an NBA fan, I’m hoping that we get to see these teams compete for seven games.