Even though the score didn’t really indicate it, the Toronto Raptors were absolutely demolished by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1, thoroughly being outplayed on both ends of the floor. LeBron James was nearly unstoppable, scoring 35 points and grabbing 10 rebounds while shooting 13-of-23 from the field. What can the Raptors do to bounce back from a Game 1 thrashing?

DeMar DeRozan should play better

DeMar DeRozan scored 19 points on 16 shots, as he was highly inefficient in Game 1, providing very little help to fellow backcourt mate, Kyle Lowry, who scored 20 points and added 11 assists. DeRozan was a team-low minus-32 in his plus-minus stat, which sums up the horrible night he had.

The Raptors will not win many games in this series if DeRozan and Lowry are inconsistent. They both need to have huge performances every game to have a chance against the Cavaliers.

Toronto’s lineup changes

The Raptors are considering making major changes to their starting lineup heading into Game 2. They apparently want to bench DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas, who were both non-factors in Game 1. Valanciunas put up six points, while Carroll had just three. In their place, head coach Dwane Casey wants to insert Norman Powell and rookie Jakob Poeltl into the lineup. Powell was excellent in the series against the Milwaukee Bucks when he was inserted into the starting lineup. Meanwhile, the rookie Poeltl figures to add more quickness at the five position to help on pick-and-roll attacks from the Cavs.

LeBron James will continue to attack the defense

The Raptors must figure out a way to contain LeBron James, who will continue to be aggressive by attacking the rim constantly. James has significantly raised his level of play during the playoffs and has become nearly impossible to contain. With James, you have to pick your poise.

Most defenders are more comfortable giving him outside jumpers, but when he is feeling it, he simply cannot miss. However, allowing him to shoot outside jumpers is still the most ideal thing to do.

Fast-break baskets

The Cavaliers thrive in the fast break, and we saw plenty of highlight plays from James and company Monday evening.

The Raptors need to make a conscious effort to get back on defense after makes and misses. They cannot allow the Cavs to run in transition because they are extremely deadly in the open court.

A better effort is expected from the Raptors, but they must make proper adjustments. Ideally, they should play smaller lineups to match Cleveland’s speed and athleticism. Game 2 is set for 7 pm Eastern Time on TNT at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

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