In what could have been a great series, the Cleveland Cavaliers have managed to find their stride and have thoroughly handled the Toronto Raptors. In their game three win, it was clear the team had reached the point where they felt they could pace themselves and turn it up at the end to close out the game.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (3-0) at Toronto Raptors (0-3)
Where? Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Where on my eyeballs? ABC
If Saturday’s shoot-around is any indication, the Raptors will be without Kyle Lowry again in game four:
Kyle: “I’m probably doubtful” for Game 4. “I don’t think I’ll be able to play.” Thinks he made it worse by trying to work out.— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) May 6, 2017
With Lowry out of the lineup, there simply isn’t a formula for the Raptors to beat the Cavs. One of their most productive looks over the last few seasons has been Lowry with their bench players. Without Lowry, the bench units simply aren’t able to generate the same offense they have in the past.
While the Cavs bench wasn’t particularly effective in Cleveland, the absence of Lowry helped Cleveland decisively win the LeBron plus bench minutes.
There isn’t a whole lot left to analyze with this series. The Raptors simply cannot keep up with the Cavs and have been unable to slow down LeBron James. With that in mind, here are a few things to keep an eye on for game four:
- Is Kyrie Irving able to get out of his slump? Irving has struggled with his jumper in the playoffs and the frustration appears to be mounting. On one hand, it’s nice to see that he has found other ways to make an impact with his play-making and defense. However he needs to get out of his slump by June 1st if the Cavs are going to have a chance of repeating.
- Can J.R. Smith stay out of foul trouble? Part of the reason the Raptors were able to hang around as much as they did was their ability to get Smith off of the court. They reduced the number of screens they sent for DeRozan on the perimeter, making it tougher for the Cavs to aggressively trap him. While Smith is unlikely to see anybody that draws fouls as frequently as DeRozan in future rounds, it’s still good practice for him.
- Will the Cavs maintain their focus? In the past, this would be a perfect storm for the Cavs to have a letdown game. With Lowry likely out of the lineup, a 3-0 series lead, and a Saturday night in Toronto, it may be tempting for the team to not be in the sharpest mental state come Sunday afternoon. But the rest and practice they will get if they do win would benefit them greatly as they continue to prepare for the Finals.
- Don’t get hurt.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Cavs overcome Sunday afternoon sloppiness and win 108-94.