After another demoralizing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers the path forward is unclear for the Toronto Raptors
06 May, 2018, 22:16
Cleveland is going to score, but you have to at least make it uncomfortable.
We've been over this once before.
The Raptors were swept away in the Eastern Conference semis by James and the Cavaliers last season and way things look at the moment, DeMar DeRozan and Co. are in danger of tumbling out at the same stage again.
This one is over. They face a big uphill battle now as they must now win all of the remaining games in the series in order to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
LeBron James and the Cavs stunned the Raptors 113-112 in overtime in Game 1 of the series on Tuesday night and then took the second game comfortably, 128-110 on Thursday night.
After winning the series' first two games in Canada, the Cavs came home and won a brawl with the Raptors, who just can't beat James.
I don't think he meant it in an ominous way, but it was a prescient observation nonetheless. The ball dropped through the hoop at the buzzer as The Q exploded with joyous disbelief that the greatest player in the world still plays here, and is still doing stuff like this.
LeBron James was chuffed with the win. "Right now he's the enemy and we've got to do a better job of not being part of history".
"We needed every bucket, every rebound, every possession", he said.
"We've got to do it better on defence", Lowry said. "Maybe to win a playoff game, I don't know'".
Toronto is going to need a pair of massive performances from their All-Star duo in Saturday's Game 3.
Cleveland, which had just nine turnovers in total over the first two games, had 10 before the third quarter was over.
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The three-time National Basketball Association champion clinched his first playoff buzzer-beater in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic in 2009, but Cleveland was eventually eliminated by the Magic. And then LeBron happened.
"It was extremely hard, extremely hard", DeRozan said of being benched by coach Dwane Casey in the fourth. "But he split our trap, went 100 miles per hour down the floor and lost our guys".
"Two points ain't two points", said LeBron before Game 3, when asked the difference between those jumpers and a dunk.
And he's had some help.
Kevin Love has seemingly resurfaced and that could spell trouble for the Raptors.
It starts with the shooters, in Hill, Korver, Smith and Love, who are three three-point threats that finished with three-point percentages above 37.0 percent last season. Kyle Korver had 18 points, and George Hill 12.
No other Cavs player scored more than 13 points while the Pacers' balanced attack saw seven players score in double figures. He is causing Toronto to change how they defend and that is causing the rest of the Cavaliers to play with more efficiency as well. There's nothing else Toronto can do at this point. Most of the second half was a slugfest, with bodies flying all over the floor, and minor skirmishes stopping play multiple times.
The Cavs are 15-0 in the playoffs when they've opened a 2-0 lead. In Game 1 they blew lead after lead, and couldn't close.
Joel Embiid had 22 points and 19 rebounds in a postseason-high 41 minutes. He also put up 14 assists and eight rebounds. "It still came down to a running, bank-shot, game-winner by LeBron".
Game 4 is on Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT. One final obstacle stands between the Raptors and Playoff glory or, an early end to their season.
Even by James's lofty standard, this was a shot to remember, a picture-perfect banking runner set up by a full-court sprint through Toronto's defense.
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Love finished the quarter with 10 points, three more than his entire total in Game 1, en route to a 31-point, 11-rebound night. But James made a jumper just before the half when the Raptors backed off of him and challenged him to shoot.
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