Raptors Cage

Game day preview: Toronto Raptors look to stun Cavaliers in Game 5

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on google
Share on email


So the Toronto Raptors had a great season, but sadly it’s now over-

Wait what? We’re four games in and the series isn’t over? I was told the Raptors were going to get swept?

That’s right, sarcastic narrative device, after getting laughed out of the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ building in Games 1 and 2, the Raptors took both of their home games to tie the series at two games a piece.

This sets up a pivotal Game 5 in Cleveland. For the 149th time this postseason, the Raptors will play the biggest game in franchise history tonight.

The Cavaliers are still heavy favourites to take the series, as they have homecourt advantage and some guy named LeBron James on their side, but if these past two games have shown anything it’s that this Cavs team is mortal. The Raptors are in a position no one thought they would be: two wins away from the NBA Finals. Here’s what they’ll need to do to get there:

Cage’s Keys

More Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan greatness

Lowry and DeRozan have had their struggles this postseason, but over the last two games they’ve snatched back the title of best backcourt in the Eastern Conference. In Game 4, Lowry and DeRozan dropped 35 and 32 points. It’s a tall order, but the All-Star backcourt is probably going to need to do it again.

The good news is, Cleveland has shown they are not the defensive juggernauts Indiana and Miami often were. The Raptors’ backcourt, even at times in the first two games of the series, has continuously roasted Cleveland off the pick-and-roll (especially with Kevin Love on the court) and with off-ball movement (especially with Love on the court). Lowry and DeRozan have found their game against Cleveland, it needs to stay.

Defensive adjustments

The fourth quarter of Game 4 saw the Cavaliers score on 14 straight possessions, mostly utilizing a high dribble-hand-off between James and Matthew Dellavedova. The play would almost always result in an open Channing Frye shot, a LeBron dunk, or a Richard Jefferson open cut to the hoop. The Raptors couldn’t find a way to stop this same set for far too many possessions.

The Cavaliers have too many offensive weapons for the Raptors to be able to stop everything, but the key is to prevent Cleveland from feeling comfortable. This requires timely adjustments by coach Dwane Casey. Casey is a fantastic between-game adjustment maker, and will likely have an answer for that fourth-quarter onslaught from Game 4. But when the Cavs throw something new at the Raptors in Game 5, it will be on Casey to put a quick stop to it.


It’s very cliché, but hard work pays off.

During Games 3 and 4, it was very clear which team wanted it more. That can’t change during Game 5. Lowry needs to keep hounding for loose balls, Bismack Biyombo needs to keep overpowering Tristan Thompson for rebounds, and Cory Joesph needs to continue annoying the hell out of whoever he happens to be guarding.

X-Factor: Jonas Valanciunas

Valanciunas, the Raptors battered centre, has been out since game 3 of the second round with a sprained ankle. He was active in Game 4 against Cleveland, but didn’t enter the game. With a couple extra days to heal, Valanciunas says he’s pretty close to 100% and ready to play. If he does play, he’ll likely come off the bench, in order to ease back into action as well as to maintain Biyombo’s dominance in the starting lineup.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says his team hasn’t game-planned for the return of Valanciunas, and likely will not do so until he sees him in game action. This means Valanciunas has a prime opportunity to exploit a Cleveland defence that likely doesn’t know what they’ve gotten themselves into. If he can return with close to the same intensity, energy and badassery he had before he went down, the Cavs could be heading back to Toronto down 3-2.

Follow Matt Jamieson on Twitter @mattjamieson12


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on google
Share on email

Leave a Comment