A poor shooting night from the Cavaliers, 28-of-79 from the field, sunk the team against the Toronto Raptors in Game 3, the Cavs' first loss of the postseason. Kyrie Irving was 3-of-19, frustrated by a strong defensive effort from Corey Joseph, and a franchise record 26 rebounds for Bismack Biyombo led the Raptors to a victory in the first Eastern Conference Finals game in the city's history.
After a dominant pair of wins in Cleveland, the Raptors responded in kind in Game 3. The biggest adjustment may have been Biyombo, who had 26 rebounds to go with seven points and four blocks. Biyombo had just nine boards in the first two games. DeMar Derozan and Cory Joseph led an effective attack for the Raptors, 32 and 14 points respectively. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers struggled to score in the paint, outscore 36-20, with just three completions in the first half, all from James. Irving was 3-of-12 and Kevin Love 0-of-4 on attempts before the half, while the Raptors shot 45.8% from the field for the night. The Raptors led by 13 at the half, 60-47, and withstood a few runs from the Cavaliers in the second half to win 99-84.
The Raptors tried out Kyle Lowry with the second unit to start the second quarter. The two-guard attack with Corey Joseph opened up a slight lead and showed the first challenge to the Cavs second unit with LeBron James. The quickness from Joseph and Lowry had a distinct advantage against the Cavaliers bench. However, three fouls on Lowry sent him to the bench with just 10 minutes in the first half. Without Lowry, DeMar DeRozan led a 15-2 run against the Cavaliers, 21 first half points.
In a rather strange moment just before the half, a mid-court dispute between Tristan Thompson and Biyombo led to a double technical on both Thompson and Joseph, and slap from Thompson on James. Joseph was attempting to break up Thompson and Biyombo, pushing Thompson away. Thompson swung his arm behind him as he walked away and landed a hit on James. James flopped from the slap, falling to the ground for an initial technical called on DeMarre Carroll before it was reviewed and reversed to the double-technical
In the second half, the shooting disparity continued. DeRozan continued to score in the paint. Joseph frustrated Irving. A Smith three-pointer cut it to 5 at its closest, and a trio of three turnovers to start the fourth quarter opened up the Raptor lead to fifteen. A lineup with Irving, James, Frye, Shumpert, and Smith failed to bring the lead closer, and the Cavaliers pulled their starters with a 14-point deficit with less than two minutes to go. Lowry played a great second half, just one personal foul, and finished the game with 20 points, six rebounds, and three assists.