Raptors prove they are for real, even series with Cavs
After going down 2-0, and getting blown out at Quicken Loans arena in back-to-back games, nobody expected this from the Raptors. The Raptors were on fire early as they took a 13-5 lead, but once Channing Frye checked in the game, the Cavs quickly went on a 15-7 run to get back into it. Although Cleveland started to look more and more confident, Toronto continued to play well as they took a three point lead after 1 quarter of play, 27-24. The 2nd quarter is when things started to take an opposite turn for the Cavs as Kyle Lowry (35 points 14-20 FG 4-7 3-FG) started to put on a show for the home crowd as he had 15 points in the 2nd quarter, and 20 overall in the first half. At one point, the Raptors were up by 18, but went into the half with a 16 point lead, 57-41.
The Cavs struggled early on as Kevin Love was pretty much kept in check by the ferocious Raptors defense and Bismack Biyombo had another sensational block as Love went up to slam the ball down, and was rejected at the rim as the roof almost blew off the arena.
That pretty much summed up the night for Love as he finished with 10 points (4-14 FG, 3-7 3-FG). Kyrie Irving on the other hand came up big for Cleveland in the 2nd half finishing with 26 points (11-21 FG but he did struggle with the 3 ball as he was 3-8). The Cavs continued to stick to their game plan as they hit some huge 3’s in the 2nd half to keep it close, and Frye continued to be effective while on the floor (12 points). Lebron James was just being Lebron as usual with 29 points and 9 assists (11-16 FG, 1-3 3-FG).
Despite the Cavs draining 6-of-8 deep shots in the 3rd quarter, and taking their first lead with 8:20 in the 3rd, 84-83, as they came out the half with a purpose, the Raptors remained calm, continued to play defense, and did just enough to come out victorious. Demar Derozan (32 points, 14-23 FG) came through in a big way as well when his team needed him. It was easy for Toronto to just fade away as they fell behind yet again in the 4th, 96-94 as the moments seemed to favor the Cavs. That was when the Raptors went on a 5-0 run to take a three point lead. The Cavs wouldn’t go away easy as Irving hit a huge 3 to cut the lead to two to quiet the crowd, but Toronto would go on to win Game 4 105-99. Biyombo was effective offensively but had another dominant performance with 16 rebounds. It was also announced right before the game that Jonas Valanciunas was active for game, but he would not start.
After seeming like this series was going to be over quick, we are finally starting to see the real Raptors, and what they are capable of on both sides of the ball. The real test now is if they can win one in Cleveland, and stick with their game plan on the road. The series just got a whole lot more interesting as Cleveland is going to prepare differently coming into game 5 as they host the Raptors, and look to take a 3-2 lead at home. Game 5 is Wednesday at 8:30 PM ET.
Orlando Torres covers the NBA for MyFantasySportsTalk.com | Follow him on Twitter @itslandoyo