The Toronto Raptors looked like a different team during games three and four on their home floor. In game five, they looked a whole lot like the team that got crushed in the opening two encounters. They took a pounding as they lost 116-78 to the Cavaliers.
This game seemed to be a slide back to earlier in the series after an awakening that saw the Raptors’ stars, Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan, combine for 67 points. Lowry finished with 13 points on 5-12 shooting and DeRozan logged only eight shots on his way to 14 points.
The Raptors looked to be bothered by the Cavaliers' increased activity on the defensive end in game five. DeRozan was quick to shut that sentiment down after the blowout. He denied the defensive impact, saying: “No, no, we just didn’t get in a rhythm. We didn’t have a rhythm all game. We were kind of stagnant.”
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DeRozan also pointed to the numerous turnovers that plagued Toronto throughout the game. They ended up with 18. That number will not do, especially when those turnovers lead to fastbreak opportunities going the other way for Cleveland.
On the defensive side of the ball, things did not go as planned for the Raptors either. Bismack Biyombo has been an x-factor in this series for the Canadian franchise. During this game he was limited by foul trouble and when it was time for him to return to the game it was already too late to come back.
Lowry spoke on the need to not let Cleveland get running on all cylinders. He talked about the difficulty in stopping the Cavaliers’ big three. He said: “Tonight Kevin Love got it going early. Kyrie got it going early. LeBron did what he usually does. But we’ve got to take one of them out of the game.”
The Cavs’ comfort was on display all night as they posted an absurd 37-point first quarter. That wave carried away Toronto’s chance to steal this game on the road. They went into the locker room at halftime down 31 points, 65-34.
All of this said, Dwane Casey is not giving up yet, despite the fact that the Raptors have not looked good in Cleveland for this entire series. A big reason for that is the dominant display they put on during the last two games in Toronto.
He said: “We go back to Toronto. It’s 3-2. The positives out of it - we beat them at our place twice. We’ve got to come out with a totally different sense of urgency - what we had talked about this morning in shootaround and all day today.”
Casey is, of course, right. The Raptors still have at least one more game to play. They have looked impressive at home where Lowry and DeRozan shine the brightest.
But, if the sense of urgency isn’t there for Toronto while facing elimination, Friday could very well mark the end of the best postseason run in franchise history.
If nothing else, they have earned our respect over the course of this series. Game six will be decided by whichever version of Toronto’s team shows up.