Eastern Conference Finals
The Raptors will be looking to take their first lead in the series when they face the Cavaliers in Game 5 on Wednesday.
Toronto looked buried after two miserable performances in Cleveland, but the team has now swung the momentum of this series with two straight home victories. The Raptors most recently defeated the Cavaliers 105-99 as six-point home underdogs to even up the series at 2-2. They shot 53.8% from the field in that game and turned the ball over just eight times as well. If they can continue to play efficiently then they will stay competitive for the remainder of this series.
The Cavaliers will, however, be hoping to get back on track at home on Wednesday. They have not lost a postseason game at Quicken Loans Arena and they’ll be looking to leave that unchanged in this one.
One thing that favors the Raptors in this game is the fact that Cleveland is just 8-20 ATS after two straight games where its opponent was called for 18 or less fouls over the past three seasons. The Cavaliers are, however, 14-3 ATS after allowing 55 points or more in the first half of two straight games over the past two seasons. Both teams are expected to be at full strength in this game, so injuries shouldn’t play a major role in determining the outcome of this one.
The Raptors have evened up this series after looking like a beaten team when they left Cleveland after Games 1 and 2. The big swing for Toronto has been that the team’s All-Star backcourt has finally started to play to its potential.
PG Kyle Lowry (18.6 PPG, 6.1 APG, 1.7 SPG in playoffs) was the one that was really dominant in Game 4, finishing the contest with 35 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. He was 14-for-20 from the floor and 4-for-7 from three in the game as well. Lowry must continue to attack the rim against Irving, as he has plenty of strength and knows how to use it to finish around the rim.
SG DeMar DeRozan (21.3 PPG, 1.1 SPG in playoffs) also came up huge for the Raptors in Game 4. He had 32 points on 14-for-23 shooting from the field, but it was the way he did it that really stood out. DeRozan scored whenever Toronto needed a clutch bucket and he’ll need to bring his confidence into Cleveland.
One big story for this game is that C Jonas Valanciunas (15.0 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 1.4 BPG in playoffs) is set to return for Toronto. He is one of the better post scorers in the game and should be able to make a mark in this series.
The Cavaliers are coming off of two lousy performances and SF LeBron James (24.0 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 7.0 APG, 2.3 SPG in playoffs) is going to need to start being more aggressive for his team moving forward. James had 29 points on 11-for-16 shooting in Game 4, but he did not shoot the ball enough for the Cavs. He’s getting a ton of good looks around the rim, but needs to stop being so passive.
It’d also be big for Cleveland if PF Kevin Love (16.4 PPG, 10.0 RPG in playoffs) can find a way to make an impact in this series. He’s averaging just 6.5 PPG over the past two contests and is just 3-for-11 from the outside in those games. The Cavaliers are relying on Love to knock down his open looks and he has not been doing it recently.
PG Kyrie Irving (23.9 PPG, 1.3 SPG in playoffs) is also going to need to be better, but his struggles are on the defensive end. He can’t afford to let Kyle Lowry continue to drive to the bucket at will in this series. If he does then the Cavaliers may be looking at their first series deficit of the postseason.