2018 Playoffs | Eastern Conference Semifinals: Raptors (1) vs. Cavaliers (4)

Toronto Raptors face daunting task down 3-0 to Cleveland Cavaliers in East semifinals

DeMar DeRozan watched from the bench as Toronto fell to Cleveland in Game 3

* Recap: Cavaliers 105, Raptors 103

That look of hopelessness on DeMar DeRozan’s face during the final minutes of the Toronto Raptors’ latest and most bitter loss at the hands of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers only told part of the story. The pain of watching what was supposed to be a transcendent season for the All-Star swingman and his Raptors was made all the more agonizing because DeRozan watched it from the bench.

Dwane Casey’s decision to keep a struggling DeRozan on the bench with the Raptors’ season on the line is sure to be talked about for years to come. The frustration for DeRozan won’t subside anytime soon either, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN details, it was the fact that DeRozan wasn’t on the floor with everything hanging in the balance that bothers him the most:

The Raptors were down 16 points when coach Dwane Casey benched DeRozan. Toronto slowly made a comeback with the different lineup, eventually tying the game with eight seconds to play before LeBron James hit a game winner at the buzzer.

“It’s extremely hard, extremely hard,” DeRozan said. “I just want to be out there helping my team, way more than anything. It definitely sucks to be watching … we’ve got to give credit to those guys. We fought hard and gave ourselves a chance to win.”

Casey did not discuss his decision with DeRozan on the bench or after the game. The coach did hint his choice wasn’t just about DeRozan’s poor shooting. He was a team-worst -23 on the night.

“Even when you are not shooting well you can defend and do things to help us win, but those nights are going to happen,” Casey said. “He had a tough night. He wasn’t the reason we lost. We are professionals, he’s a pro. He has had tough games before he’ll bounce back. But we have one more game, our pride is on the line, basically our season is on the line, but I think he’ll bounce back.”

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