Backcourt

Cavs: How J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver fare could determine the outcome of the series. Smith averaged 8.6 points and shot .318 from the field, .306 from 3-point range, against the Indiana Pacers, while also serving as the primary defender on Victor Oladipo. He’s had only two playoff seasons worse from the field in his 10 appearances. Coming in, he was a career .409 shooter in the playoffs, .370 from long range. Korver averaged 8.3 points and shot .400 from 3-point range in averaging 23 minutes against the Pacers. Korver went scoreless in Games 1 and 3, Smith did the same in Game 5, which would likely doom the Cavs. Point guard George Hill returned Sunday in Game 7 against the Pacers after missing the previous three games with back spasms. He did not start because he was on a minutes restriction and coach Tyronn Lue feared his back would tighten up when he went to the bench. So he played all of his 19 minutes in the second half and scored 11 points, including 9-of-11 free throws. Surprisingly his condition did not keep him from driving to the basket. Hill, steady though unremarkable at times, has played in the postseason in nine of his 10 seasons. The Cavs need him in the lineup as soon as his back allows.

Raptors: Four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan averaged 26.7 points as the Raptors eliminated the Washington Wizards 4-2 in the first round, up from his 23-point average in the 80 regular season games. As the Cavs went 2-1 against the Raptors in the regular season, DeRozan averaged 17.7 points and shot .429 from the field, below his .456 for the season and .448 for his career. He has a franchise-best 14 career 30-point playoff games, including 32 in Game 5 against the Wizards. In the regular season, DeRozan posted a career-high 5.2 assists. Kyle Lowry averaged 17.2 points and 8.3 assists against the Wizards, with a playoff career-high 12 assists in Game 2. In the regular season, he led the league in charges drawn with 37 in 78 games, after posting 15 in 60 games last season. In two games against the Cavs in 2017-18, he averaged 14.5 points and 5.0 assists.

Advantage: Raptors

Frontcourt

Cavs: Four-time league Most Valuable Player LeBron James averaged 41 minutes in seven games against the Pacers, a dramatic difference after the Cavs swept their first-round series (against the Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Pacers) the previous three years. In the semifinals the Cavs play every other day, which will further tax the 33-year-old James in his 15th NBA season. But he continued his MVP-caliber performance from the regular season, averaging 34.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.4 steals against the Pacers. The only question is how long his body can handle this workload. Kevin Love, in his first Cavs’ postseason as the No. 2 scoring option following the August trade of Kyrie Irving, struggled to put up points. He averaged 11.4 points and 9.3 rebounds and shot .338 from the field, .412 from 3-point range. In his three previous Cavs postseasons, he averaged 14.3 points in 2015, 14.7 in 2016 and 16.8 in 2017, which the Cavs would gladly take at this point. Tristan Thompson made his first 2018 postseason start on Sunday, playing center so Love could shift back to power forward, and Thompson responded by scoring 15 points with a team-high 10 rebounds. The Love-Thompson combo was productive enough that Lue seemed to be leaning towards sticking with it.

Raptors: The Raptors went 8-0 in the regular season when forward Serge Ibaka scored at least 20 points; he pitched in 23 in Game 1 against the Wizards. He averaged 8.8 points and 7.0 rebounds against the Wizards. In the regular season he ranked 17th in the league in blocked shots (1.29). But Ibaka scored three points in Games 3 and 5. Rookie OG Anunoby started all six playoff games and averaged 7.8 points and 2.2 rebounds. Center Jonas Valanciunas ranks third on the Raptors in playoff scoring (13.5) and first in rebounds (9.3). He holds the franchise record with 13 career playoff double-doubles. The key coming off the bench is Fred VanVleet, who injured his right shoulder in the fourth quarter of the regular-season finale and missed four of the first five games in the playoffs. The Cavs must also worry about 7-footer Jakob Poeltl (6. 2 points, 4.3 rebounds vs. the Wizards), 6-foot-9 Pascal Saikam (6.3 points, 4.0 rebounds) and guard-forward C.J. Miles, the ex-Cav, who has average 12.0 points in 21 career games against his former team.

Advantage: Cavs.

Coaching

Cavs: Tyronn Lue has not had a good season as he deals with health problems and never-ending injuries. But he might have saved the playoffs with the insertion of Thompson into the starting lineup, giving the Cavs aggressiveness they were sorely lacking. In playing James, Love, Smith, Korver and Thompson, Lue had all of the remaining players from the 2016 championship team in the lineup along with Korver, who went to the 2017 Finals. It wasn’t just nostalgia, Lue is relying on players he can trust. Now they must reward him for it.

Raptors: Dwane Casey is a legitimate coach of the year candidate after he changed the Raptors’ style from a team that didn’t move the ball and didn’t rely on his long-range game to one that has more movement, more 3-point scoring and uses a deep bench. The Raptors earned the top seed with a 59-23 record. But the bench has taken a hit without VanVleet, and the Raptors dropped Games 3 and 4 to the Wizards after jumping out to a 2-0 series lead. The Cavs are 8-2 against the Raptors the past two postseasons, and Casey must prove the Cavs no longer have the psychological advantage in the matchup.

Edge: Raptors

Marla’s pick: Cavs in seven.

— Marla Ridenour