Cavs vs. Raptors Game 3: What We Learned

Posted May 20, 2017

His 37.4 minutes per night pitted him behind only LeBron James in minutes per contest.

With a win Sunday, the Cavs would sweep the Raptors and become the first team in National Basketball Association history to open the playoffs 8-0 in consecutive seasons. Kyle Lowry was out with a sprained ankle and Toronto shot a brutal 2-for-18 from 3-point range, with 17 of the 18 attempts being uncontested. That group, which included Korver, went on a 26-7 run versus the Raptors from the start of the fourth quarter until James subbed out with 3:27 to play.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue had a simple answer when asked after Game 2 why his team is so much more focused in the playoffs than it was for most of 2017 in the regular season.

With Kyle Lowry sitting out with an ankle injury, DeMar DeRozan had his best game of the series with 37 points to lead all scorers. "I just think we have that mentality of next man up, just playing hard, as we do when he's there and we were able to win games". James Harden scored 43 points for Houston. And we just had to weather the storm. "There was no back down".

The injury occurred early in the third quarter when Cleveland's Tristan Thompson shoved Norman Powell, who hit Lowry from the side while falling. The Raptors said he was available, but when Delon Wright came off the bench for Cory Joseph (Lowry's replacement) late in the first quarter, it was clear Lowry wouldn't play.

Jonas Valanciunas returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench in Game 2 and scored 23 points. "He was limping badly".

"DeRozan was fantastic - he gave everything he had", said James.

"We knew we were going to get their best shot. They're a hell of a team", said DeRozan, who said he thought he could have kept playing without that rest at the start of the fourth. You can see they had real chemistry with James and Thompson.

Had they got even an average night from behind the line the Raptors might be a game away from tying this series up.

The Cavaliers led 28-24 after the first quarter and the Raptors led 52-49 at the intermission. Instead, DeRozan had 36 points through three quarters, and the Cavs were ahead by two going to the fourth. James hit 15-of-16 free throws and just nine field goals.

"We came in here (last year) and weren't prepared", Kyrie Irving said. Cleveland will go for their second-straight series sweep on Sunday at 3:30 in Toronto.

James said the game tilted in the fourth because of two things. "I know he wasn't able to finish the game. I don't really think about the sweep, I don't think of anything but how can I as leader of the ballclub put our guys in a position to be successful". They trailed by only two after three quarters before the Cavaliers quickly blew open the game.

That won't be easy against the Cavaliers, the first team since the Minneapolis Lakers in 1949 and 1950 to win their first seven playoff games in consecutive seasons. The last time Toronto lost three consecutive games was February 8-14.Last season when the teams met in the Eastern Conference finals, the Raptors won Game 3 and Game 4 at home after the Cavaliers won the first two games in Cleveland. After winning the first two games this season, the Cavs went back to Toronto trying to avoid the pitfalls of past year.

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