Toronto (2-2) at Cleveland (2-2)
When: Wednesday, May 25th 2016
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Time: 8:35 ET | TV: ESPN
With two impressive victories at home, the Toronto Raptors have now made the Eastern Conference Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers a best-of-three affair as the teams go back to Cleveland for Game 5 on Wednesday. As has been the case with this team all season and into the playoffs, Toronto’s success relies heavily on the play of All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The two combined for 67 points on 28-of-43 shooting in the Raptors’ Game 4 victory on Monday. “One thing about us, we can take the bad with the good any day,” DeRozan said. “It’s life, man. You can’t get too down when things are not going your way, but you understand the work that you put in all summer, all throughout the season, for moments like this. You’ve got to be ready.” Another guy player who appears to be ready again is center Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) and will team up with defensive dynamo Bismack Biyombo, who has averaged 20 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots over the past two games.
The Cavaliers looked like they were going to cruise past Toronto and into the NBA Finals, but now find themselves with a battle on their hands and a very key Game 5. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue didn’t play ineffective power forward Kevin Love (5-of-23 shooting last two games) in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive contest but pointed out that mistakes where the biggest factor in the Game 4 loss. “We came up short,” Lue said in his postgame press conference. “We had a few defensive breakdowns that you can’t have down the stretch of a game, especially in the playoffs, and they executed every time we made a mistake.” Point guard Kyrie Irving bounced back with 26 points after struggling on 3-of-19 shooting in Game 3 when he scored a series-low 13 points. LeBron James scored a postseason-best 29 points in Game 4 and has 20 or more points in each of Cleveland’s 12 playoff games.
Cleveland will bounce back with a win here tonight, but I think Toronto is playing with enough confidence right now to keep the final score in the single-digit range.
Pick: Raptors +11