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How Will Extra Rest Impact Cavs vs Raps?

The Cleveland Cavaliers are undoubtedly playing their best basketball of the season, and this is the best the team has meshed since LeBron James returned to Cleveland. After having their way with the Pistons and sweeping the Hawks for the second year in a row, the Cavaliers became the eighth team in the last 25 years to sweep their first and second round opponent in the same year.

Here’s a look at how those teams finished out the playoffs:

Teams who've swept 1st and 2nd round opponent - last 25 years
TeamResult
2012 San Antonio SpursLost in Western Conference Finals
2010 Orlando MagicLost in Eastern Conference Finals
2009 Cleveland CavaliersLost in Eastern Conference Finals
2005 Miami HeatLost in Eastern Conference Finals
2001 Los Angeles LakersWon NBA Finals
1999 Indiana PacersLost in Eastern Conference Finals
1993 Chicago BullsWon NBA Finals

It’s a bit surprising to see that five of the teams went on to lose in the next round. A sweep in the NBA playoffs usually results in an extended rest for the team, which can definitely be good for players to relax and heal injuries. But maybe history tells us that too much rest — in this case, two big blocks of time off — isn’t a good thing. Is this something the Cavs have to worry about? Probably not. This is a veteran club that always seems to be nicked up, so the time off likely helps. Plus, even if they do come out a bit rusty, it won’t take long to find their stride vs the on-and-off Toronto Raptors.

It’s the opposite end of the spectrum for the Toronto Raptors who are coming off two straight seven-game-series. Their level of competition is about to increase, but what impact will playing the maximum number of games so far have on them? Well, over the last 25 years six teams have made the conference finals after playing the max number of games in the first two rounds.

Here’s a look at how those teams ended their seasons:

Teams who've played max number of games in round 1 and 2 - last 25 years
TeamResult
2008 Boston CelticsWon NBA Finals
2006 Phoenix SunsLost in Western Conference Finals
2003 Dallas MavericksLost in Western Conference Finals
1997 Miami HeatLost in Eastern Conference Finals
1995 Houston RocketsWon NBA Finals
1993 Seattle SuperSonicsLost in Eastern Conference Finals

So, for you Raptors backers that are looking for something to cling on to — it has been done before. There’s a Grand Canyon-sized difference between the 2016 Raptors and the 2008 Celtics and 1995 Rockets though. Those teams were stacked with current and future hall-of-famers, while the Raptors are simply the second-best team in the league’s weakest conference.

Despite their elite level, record-breaking play, it still seems like a foregone conclusion that we’re just waiting for the Cavs to walk all over the Raptors but lose in the Finals. The narrative in the Eastern Conference all season has been that it’s now a competitive conference with teams that can challenge Cleveland, but now, at the time that matters most, the Cavs have made the competition look like chump change. With their toughest opposition still ahead of them, we'll see if the extra rest is the special ingredient in the Cavs’ pursuit of a title.

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