Sports

Are Raptors finally built to beat Cavs in playoffs?

Are Raptors finally built to beat Cavs in playoffs?

LeBron James and Kevin Love led the Cavaliers, each picking up a double-double, with James scoring 27 points and handing out 11 assists, while also grabbing eight rebounds. "It's on me to go out there, to understand how teams are going to play me, for me to understand how I can make my teammates excel at the highest level". Somehow, the Warriors find ways to care that the Cavs have not.

"When Steph is on the floor, everything's chaotic in a good way", Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game Friday. They're a big, physical team. On this night, the Cavs were done in by a scoreless stretch of 3:20 in the second quarter when the Raptors went on an 11-0 run to take a 55-34 lead. "In the third quarter, we didn't exert as much as we did in the first half and we let them get back into the game".

"Coming out in the third, we were just walking around".

Indeed, Stephenson - whom the Cavs could have signed last season to a 10-day contract after working him out in a midseason free agent minicamp - put up 16 points, 11 rebounds and four assists off the bench. "You have to get out to their 3-point shooters. That changes the whole dynamic".

Resilience has been the word of the season for these Pacers, who have comeback to win in four games where they were down by at least 19 points and a few more where they were down by that many but failed to finish it off.

Despite head coach Tyronn Lue holding an in-depth film session addressing defensive lapses on Wednesday after the 127-99 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Cavaliers still gave up 127+ points for the second straight game to a bunch of role players. They now rank third in offensive rating and fourth in defensive rating. DeRozan said on Friday it's a game Toronto could have won, pointing out that they had a lead with less than two minutes remaining, and said the Raptors have grown within their new system since. "It's just been a process of us learning a right rhythm, finding a comfort within it". "When he's out, we have to execute better at both ends. It showed that we all came together and we understood what we had to do".

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According to Casey, having success with the new system helps but isn't everything.

"It wasn't like we were broke", Casey said before Thursday's game.

"You're dealing with human behaviour and human behaviour is unpredictable sometimes".

Larry Nance Jr. had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who blew an early 19-point lead before running away in the fourth quarter.

In recent years, it felt like Toronto was replaying the same season over and over: Excel in the regular season behind the individual brilliance of Lowry and DeRozan, then fall apart in the playoffs as each crumbled under the weight of opposing defences over the course of a seven-game series.


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