Also, Cleveland was held to under 40 percent shooting for the first time this postseason (35.4 percent). Yet the Raptors always had an answer to Cleveland’s mini-runs.
Losing to LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers is nothing to be ashamed of: In the East, everybody does it.
“He was huge. I thought he played a big time game in the paint.” said Casey.
Adams, an emerging star for the Thunder, took some hits in Game 2 and had to leave the game briefly.
Chief among the Cavaliers’ first-half problems was the fact that four players: James, Irving, J.R. Smith and Channing Frye, combined for all but three of the team’s first half points. LeBron and DeMarre Carroll joined the minor face-off soon after, and it looked as if the whole thing would end rather quickly with a technical or two to end any further escalation. In the first two games, James shot 9-for-10 when guarded by Carroll. It also shattered the Raptors’ previous playoff record set by Jonas Valanciunas – 19 rebounds – set in Game 1 against the Pacers. Meanwhile, James and Kyrie Irving combined for 51 and the team as a whole beat up the Raptors.
For most of the season, Kyle Lowry going to the bench has meant instantaneous doom for the Raptors. It was Cleveland’s worst rebound differential this postseason.
But the brick wall that is Biyombo, who wagged a finger like Dikembe Mutombo on his four blocked shots, was the Raptors’ motor, thriving on the energy of the Air Canada Centre crowd and giving it back to them in spades.
52 – I have felt that for the Raptors to have any chance to win this series, they were going to need at least 55 to 60 points from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The lowest they had shot from the field up to this point was 41.9%. The Raptors are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 vs. NBA Central and 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games overall.
“At the end of the day, it’s playoffs, teams are going to push and shove, they want to win the game, so at the end of the day, you’re going to have to fight”, Patterson said. The Raptors hadn’t lost three straight games since November, and the Cavaliers hadn’t lost an Eastern Conference playoff game since May 8, 2015, against the Chicago Bulls. He shot 10-for-22 on contested field goal attempts (45 percent).
Cleveland’s mountain of a man, LeBron James, had a triple double with 23 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, and passed Shaquille O’Neal for fourth on the all-time post-season scoring list. “The series doesn’t start until you lose at home?” coach Dwane Casey said, hopefully.
With their season basically on the line, DeRozan and Biyombo injected life into the Raptors and snapped Cleveland’s flawless postseason streak at 10 with a 99-84 win at the Air Canada Centre.
The Cavs have been dominant during the postseason but had the lead in Game 3 for less than a minute.
As for Saturday’s action, the bosses of both teams praised Biyombo’s intensity. Golden State bounced back in Game 2 and outrebounded Oklahoma City by nine in a 118-91 victory. In their first loss of the playoffs, the Cavaliers only managed 84 points. The Cavaliers were aspiring to be the third team in National Basketball Association history to start 11-0 in the playoffs, with the 1989 and 2001 Los Angeles Lakers representing the only squads to complete such a feat. Lowry had a solid bounceback game with 20 points thanks to a 4 for 8 performance from three.
Toronto continued to grapple with the Cavaliers in the trenches in the fourth quarter, and some determined defense allowed the home team to overcome a pedestrian offensive display over the game’s final stages.