Cavaliers 1 win away from eastern finals

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 9, 2017

Down 2-0 with the series moving to Toronto, the Raptors were hoping for a repeat of last year's Eastern Conference Finals when they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers two games in row in the same situation.

Win or lose Sunday, DeMar DeRozan believes this season hasn't been a failure for the Toronto Raptors.

Lowry suffered the sprained ankle Wednesday night in Game 2. No team in National Basketball Association history has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs and the Raptors are not about to become the first team to do it. "You train, you hit the heavy bag, and you come out and go to the rope-a-dope instead of throwing a punch".

"It's hard to say", Casey said when asked how close the Raptors' team, as now constructed, were to making a legitimate run at the Cavs. "He wanted to. The trainers told him he shouldn't try to go, because he was in so much pain".

The Cavaliers outscored the Raptors 36-17 in the final quarter, with James scoring 13 of the points in fewer than nine minutes of playing time. And Powell was keeping James somewhat quiet.

Lowry took part in the warm-up and was listed as active for the game, but Cory Joseph started in his place.

DeRozan - who was smothered under double-teams in Game 2 and went 2-for-11 - picked up steam in Friday's second quarter.

The only other player with any notable performance was Jonas Valanciunas, who did well in the starting lineup, coming out strong with 8 points in the first 8 minutes of the 1st quarter. Catch the Toronto Raptors take on the Cleveland Cavaliers LIVE this Sunday on BT Sport 2. It also didn't help that the Raptors had hit only one three-pointer up to that point.

"We just want to try to get better every game", James said. Part of the disparity between these two numbers is due to the sheer amount of threes the Cavs are attempting (67 through two games) in comparison to the Raptors (43), but when you're hitting on almost half of your triples like Cleveland is, why would you stop?

Toronto lost Powell to a left ankle injury midway through the first quarter.

All that adds up to the Raptors going 2-for-18 from three.

James added eight rebounds and seven assists. He poured in 35, his third straight 30+ point effort against the Raps.

DeRozan played more than 40 minutes. "Not just me, the whole team as well", he said. "We just tried to make it tough on him and weather the storm". The team petered out down the stretch of the quarter, with both scorers exhausted and the bench defenders doing a poor job of tracking Korver around screens.

In Game 3, DeRozan put together a great first half and had his team in the lead. "We knew we were going to get their best shot and we were able to get it done when it counted". "When you see them knocking down their threes, it's kind of deflating". No NBA team has ever come back after losing the first three games. Toronto lost three in a row from February 8 to 14. However, it was LeBron who dominated the start of the fourth, and this shot later in the quarter may have been the dagger. "It was an all-round good game for us rebounding, offensively and defensively, so we just have to keep that up". The reason those examples stand out is precisely because they are so rare. "Just can't wait to get out there to redeem yourself".

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love scored 16 points apiece.

"We had several opportunities", Harden said. "Honestly, today we were not giving up but they were better than us".

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