On the Brink

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Raps on the brink of elimination

Raptors Fall Apart Late, Go Down 3-0 in Series to Cavs

For three quarters, it seemed like the Toronto Raptors might’ve been able to pull out a win in a pivotal Game 3 inside the Air Canada Centre.

Taking the lead into the half, sitting down only two points entering the fourth, all without the services of Kyle Lowry who sat the game out with a sprained ankle, the Raptors were squashed in the final quarter, taking the eventual loss by a score of 115-94. Now down 3-0, the Raptors are on the brink of elimination, with the status of their star point guard unknown, still with not a single answer for the Cavaliers high-powered offence.

“He was limping badly, he just couldn’t go,” Casey said on Lowry following the game. “He wanted to, the trainers and Alex (McKechnie, the team’s director of sports science) and the medical people said he shouldn’t try to go, he was just in so much pain (but) he wanted to.”

And what does this series really come down too? Execution. That is what playoff basketball is all about. It’s not that the Raptors were executing well per say through the first three quarters, but the Cavaliers came out flat and did not come alive up until the final frame where they outscored the Raptors 36-17.

The defence was better for the most part until the end, but the Raptors just couldn’t hit shots. They couldn’t move the ball well enough, settling for isolation plays for often than not. DeMar DeRozan had a great performance, dropping 37-points in the losing effort, but isolation play is not the way to beat the Cavaliers.

The Raptors had just 17-assists on the evening, were out rebounded by a glaring 24-boards, and shot only 2/18 from three-point range, good for 11% from three. The Cavaliers on the other hand hit 56% of their three-pointers, hitting 13 and went to the free-throw line 11-more times.

Kyle Lowry or not, the Raptors were out-hustled and outmuscled yet again only this time, it was on their home floor, in front of their home fans.

While only dishing out 15-assists as a team, the Cavaliers were aggressive, moved well, spread the floor, and did everything they had to do to win. The Cavs had eight offensive rebounds, the Raps had one. The Cavs had 49-rebounds in total, the Raps had 25. When the Cavs needed shots outside of LeBron James’ 35-points, they received it from namely Kyle Korver who delivered the final blow late in the third quarter from which the Toronto Raptors were not able to recover from.

“That’s what he’s here for,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said of Korver. “He’s a specialist. No matter the time and score, he’s willing to take those big shots and we love him.”

With the Raptors staring at elimination, the Raptors must regroup. The Cavaliers have to this point proven that they are the better team, but they have also proven that they are willing to work for every basket and every playoff win they have accumulated.

It is time for the Raptors to do the same and if they do not, the end result is really quite simple. The season is over and the franchise begins to look towards an offseason filled with uncertainty.

The Raptors must take each game, one at a time and play with a refusal to pack things up for the season.

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