Norman Powell has been a bright spot for the Toronto Raptors for the last two seasons. He was drafted out of UCLA with the 46th overall pick in the 2015 draft and that gamble has paid off for the Canadian club in a huge way.
Even his feel good story has it’s bumps though as he is looking at the possibility of being sent home by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second year in a row on Sunday. Things aren’t looking good for the squad after their 115-94 loss on Friday night.
Last year, the Raps got dusted in the first two games and responded in a huge way coming back home for the third and fourth games of the series. Bismack Biyombo, who is now in Orlando, played a huge role in igniting the crowd and stoking their defence against Cleveland.
This year however, the team lost their starting point guard in Kyle Lowry for Game 3 after he suffered an ankle injury the prior game in Ohio. There was a hill to climb before the All-Star suffered his injury, but it became that much harder when he was announced to be out.
Powell started for the Raptors last game and didn’t have a great night offensively as he shot 3-for-19 from the field after having his scoring load increased. He missed all but one of his three pointers and finished with a team worst -25 on the evening.
Another task on top of that: guard LeBron James as the primary defender. The King would finish with 35 points on 16 shots and basically had his way in the lane and from outside. Guarding him during this playoff has been an impossible task and Friday was no different.
One of the funnier moments of the night occurred as Powell was about to sub out without realising that it wasn’t time for a substitution yet. The Akron native pulled him back into position and then explained the situation to the younger player.
In all fairness, breaks from guarding the best player in the world should probably be frequent for most players. The onslaught would continue and later the Cavaliers bench would help administer the finishing blow to the Raps as they went on a 8-2 run to start the fourth quarter.
The entire series has been one long sequence that illustrates the gulf between these two teams. Cleveland has done what it wants, when it wants and there is little hope in a miraculous victory in Game 4 on Sunday in Toronto.
Make no mistake, Powell is a great sophomore player who helped T-Dot turn the tide against the Milwaukee Bucks in the last round, but honestly, this might be too tall of a task for him.