By. Hailey Salvian
One round down, three to go for the coveted NBA championship.
With one round down, only two teams remain with ties to Canada - the Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers - who just so happen to be squaring off for the second straight year in the second round.
Last season Cleveland swept the Raptors in a decisive fashion, but this year it's Toronto that seemingly has the upper hand.
The Indiana Pacers pushed LeBron James and the Cavs to the brink in the first round, leaving LeBron "burnt" as he said to reporters when asked about the upcoming matchup against Toronto.
In the Cavs' first three wins of the series, James poured in 46, 32 and 44 points - not to mention a game winner that rivaled "the shot" and 45 points in their game seven victory.
The BLOCK. The SHOT. The BUZZER BEATER WINE & GOLD WINNER! @KingJames is a bad man.- Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) April 26, 2018
GAME 5 HIGHLIGHTS → https://t.co/y74cFnXeHJ #WhateverItTakes pic.twitter.com/GtWFWXIikP
And while Toronto often relies on a big night from DeMar DeRozan, the depth of the Raptors and the effectiveness of The Bench Mob will be a thorn in the back of the Cavs.
Who's In, Who's Out?
The Raptors are Canada's team, but they have no Canadian players, which means the only Canuck remaining in the playoffs is the Cavs' Tristan Thompson who struggled through the season, but has seemed to resurge late in the first-round.
Through the first six games Thompson didn't touch the floor. But, in the crucial Game 7, he moved into a starting position and erupted for a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Keeping Up With The Canadians 🇨🇦- NBA Canada (@NBACanada) April 30, 2018
Tristan Thompson finished with a double-double (15pts, 10reb) in the @cavs Game 7 W over the @Pacers ! pic.twitter.com/Hdr2kxmWXj
His performance not only helped his team move onto the next round, but also gave him his coach Tyronn Lue's respect.
"For ( @RealTristan13 ) to step up and be in the fire of Game 7 was unbelievable."- Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) April 29, 2018
Coach Lue credits a "total team win" in today's must-win Game 7 at home. #WhateverItTakes pic.twitter.com/GYVV9Xcf1i
The first-round of the playoffs was not friendly to Canadians, as three were eliminated from contention.
Andrew Wiggins made his career playoff debut for the Minnesota Timberwolves in their series against the top seeded Houston Rockets.
In his debut, Wiggins scored a team-high 18 points and added six assists in the Wolves' 104-101 loss.
Keeping Up With The Canadians 🇨🇦- NBA Canada (@NBACanada) April 16, 2018
Andrew Wiggins scored a team high 18 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in his playoff debut with the @Timberwolves . pic.twitter.com/izU6De1pdb
Wiggins and the Timberwolves went down 4-1.
In the defeat, the former No. 1 pick averaged 32 minutes-per-game, just under 16 points, five assists and two rebounds in his first-ever playoff series.
Kelly Olynyk tied his playoff points record in his Miami Heat debut with 26 points in the Heat's 130-103 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Kelly Olynyk dropped 26 POINTS (tying playoff career-high) in his playoff debut with the @MiamiHEAT ! 🔥🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/F4J8Y4nIVd- NBA Canada (@NBACanada) April 15, 2018
He followed up his performance with 11 points and 6 assists in a game two victory, but his play wasn't enough to make it to round two. The Heat went down 4-1 to the Sixers.
As mentioned, the Indiana Pacers pushed the Cavaliers to the brink in the first-round, with Canadian fan favourite Cory Joseph as their point guard. Game three was a big one for Indiana, as they erased a 17-point deficit to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
The best second-half plays from the @Pacers 17-point comeback in Game 3 to put them up 2-1 in the series! #Pacers #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/HlJtnlgxnr- NBA (@NBA) April 21, 2018
Joseph averaged 20 minutes per game, three assists and just under five points in the Pacers' 4-3 defeat by the Cavs.
Talking Canada with Mo Pete
NBA Canada recently caught up with former Raptor Morris Peterson to talk basketball and all things Canada. Here's what he had to say.
NBA: What does Toronto and Canada mean to you?
MP: I'm an honorary Canadian! Some people come up to me and say, 'oh you aren't Canadian?' because they think I'm Canadian. I am … eh.
NBA: What does coming back to Toronto mean to you?
MP: It means a lot because Toronto has given a lot to me. It was the first city I was drafted in as a 21-year-old kid coming into the city, they welcomed me with open arms and I'll never forget that.
NBA: What would you say to players who don't want to play in Canada or for the Raptors?
MP: I don't think guys do that anymore.
I think when I was playing guys would have their reservations about playing here. But, I always looked at it like it's a great country that loves basketball, I loved it.
It's great, for me I never had a problem with playing here I tell guys a lot it's a great opportunity (to play here) and look what I've been able to accomplish being here, so it can't be that bad.
NBA: Do you say soda or pop?
MP: Pop … I'm from Michigan so, closer to Canada.
NBA: Tim Hortons or Dunkin Donuts?
MP: See that's wrong ... because I spent a lot of time in both. A lot of time in Tim Hortons, a lot of time at Dunkin Donuts. I like them both.
NBA: Do you know what a double-double is?
MP: A what??? When you get 10 points, 10 rebounds?
NBA: Its two cream two sugar in a coffee …
For more quirky Canadian questions, watch NBA players guess what the Canadian coin for two-dollars is below.
The one dollar Canadian coin is named after the LOON 🦆 and is called a LOONIE. What is the two dollar coin called? 😉 pic.twitter.com/RqQnrMhcBZ- NBA Canada (@NBACanada) April 26, 2018