Tomorrow afternoon the Cleveland Cavaliers will have the chance to end the Toronto Raptor’s season, and send star guard Kyle Lowry into free agency. Lowry has pronounced himself as doubtful for the game, so even with the Cavs on the road the Clevelander’s will go into the game as comfortable favorites. How we got here, though, is worth examining, and Game 3 held some clues.
The Raptors aren’t getting nearly enough from three-point range
The Cavs were 2-18 from three-point range in Game 3. They aren’t attempting enough threes, and they aren’t making enough threes. The Cavs had serious turnover issues in the first half, and weren’t working particularly hard defensively. The game wouldn’t have been close if the team hadn’t been hitting from distance, and, if the Raptors weren’t so incompetent from beyond the arc. Patrick Patterson, DeMarre Carroll, P.J. Tucker, and Serge Ibaka are all supposed to be capable from three, and the team just hasn’t gotten anything from them.
For the series, the Cavs are now outscoring the Raptors by 84 points from three point-range. In today’s NBA, that’s just impossible to overcome.
If DeMar DeRozan doesn’t play like a star, the Raptors don’t have a chance
With Kyle Lowry or not, the Raptors just can’t get enough offensive creation unless DeRozan is able to create for himself or others. Since his playmaking capabilities in terms of his teammates are limited, he has to be scoring himself. In Games 1 and 2, he didn’t do this, and Lowry was banged up and overmatched on his own. In Game 3, DeRozan put together a great first half and had his team in the lead.
Without much help scoring from his teammates, he would have had to play at an even higher level in the second half to have his team back in the series. He ended up with 37 points, but the Raptors just couldn’t sustain their offense. If Lowry leaves in free agency, the Raptors will need help to score.
LeBron James might not have anything to prove, but he isn’t playing like it
LeBron James’ reign of terror in the Eastern Conference continues. The Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, and Atlanta Hawks have been near-contenders that ultimately couldn’t get past LeBron James. It appears that the Raptors are set to join them. A year ago at this time there were whispers that LeBron James could no longer beat anyone off the dribble and his jump shot was failing him. When the Cavs were down 3-1 to the Warriors, articles were written saying that he was no longer capable of catching Michael Jordan to become the greatest player of all time.
By the time the Cavs playoff run is over, James will have become the NBA’s all time leader in playoff points scored. He will still have, presumably, three to five more years of time to pad his stats. But forget those. On a game to game basis, he’s doing things that are special. Turn back the clock dunks. Epic comebacks. Crazy passes. Dagger threes. Free safety defense.
I feel bad for the Raptors in a sense. They can’t win. LeBron James plays for the other team.