2017 Playoffs: Game 4 Preview - Raptors vs. Cavaliers
The Toronto Raptors look to extend their season on Sunday when they face the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the Cavs owning a 3-0 series lead, it's win or start the summer for Toronto.
Tip-off: 3:30 P.M. ET
Broadcast info: TSN, ABC / TSN1050
After 82 regular season and nine postseason games, the Raptors are in a must-win situation on Sunday. With the Cavaliers holding a 3-0 lead and wanting to close out the series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, it's win or be done time. Despite the pressure, DeMar DeRozan, fresh off a valiant playoff career-high 37-point performance in Toronto's Game 3 loss, is looking at the opportunity within Sunday's Game 4 match up.
"Just understanding, you know, you do have an opportunity," DeRozan said. "As long as you understand that you have an opportunity, you can focus in on that. Whatever comes after that, then you dwell on whatever comes after that. As long as you have an opportunity, you good."
After a season of leading the NBA in comeback victories, DeRozan said the team is proud of the way it has faced adversity this year. Through injuries and otherwise, players have stepped up to find a way.
"We pride ourselves all year on things like that," DeRozan said. "Being down, being resilient, giving everything we got, and just fighting. We have an opportunity to be able to exploit that tomorrow and we're gonna have to do it from all angles."
Dwane Casey was asked how he prepares the team for a Game 4 when trailing 0-3 in the series. Despite the result of the first three games, Toronto's head coach believes in his team's fight heading into Sunday.
"We tend to forget - I mean I think we have had an excellent season," Casey said. "We are in the semi-finals of the Eastern Conference playoffs and yeah we are struggling against probably the favourite to win our Conference. But that is what I reminded the guys. They have put in a lot of sweat equity to get here. Let's not let go of the rope and not come out to prepare tomorrow because it will hurt all summer. It will hurt everybody all summer if we don't come out and hold onto the rope together. Win, lose, or draw you have to come out and compete your behinds off like you did [Friday] for longer periods of time.
"Whether it is hard or not it shouldn't be hard because we have 15 professionals in the locker room who understand the moment. They understand what is at stake."
48 minutes of competition
Toronto played nearly three quarters of solid basketball against the Cavaliers on Friday. Save for a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers from Kyle Korver to close the third quarter and give Cleveland a two-point lead heading into the fourth, the Raptors played as well as they have all postseason, despite being without the services of All-Star Kyle Lowry.
"I think three quarters last night we just played extremely aggressive and tried to take away everything we could take away," DeRozan said. "We were scrambling, being physical, contesting shots, doing everything we could It's just a matter of us doing it for four quarters or 48 minutes. Cause they're gonna make shots here and there, they're gonna make buckets in the post here and there. It happens. But we made everything extremely tough on them last night, and as long as we can sustain that for 48 minutes, we give ourselves a chance."
Things fell apart in the fourth as the Cavaliers found another gear and the Raptors struggled to contain their offence after doing a solid job through the first three quarters.
"We gotta understand going to the fourth quarter, a championship team like that understands the moment," DeRozan said. "[It] understands going into the fourth quarter it's an opportunity to put away, to do all the things that's needed for them to win. You seen it in the first two minutes of the fourth. We gotta understand, going out there every single quarter, let's close our the quarter. Especially going into that fourth quarter, every single second matters for us to execute on both ends."
Lowry provides update on ankle
Kyle Lowry suited up on Friday and gave his best effort at being on the floor with his teammates, but ultimately was unable to play because of the sprained ankle sustained in Game 2. He spoke with the media after practice on Saturday, but his update wasn't the one he had hoped to be delivering. Though officially listed as day-to-day, Lowry didn't sound particularly optimistic about Sunday's game.
"Um, I'm probably doubtful, honestly," he said. "Hopefully some things change, but right now, I don't think I'll be able to play."
As for how close he was to playing on Friday?
"It was close," Lowry said. "I mean, I was going to try, but I think I kind of made it a little bit worse by trying to work out a few times, aggravated it a little more, just trying to get out there and do things and turn and jump and run. So it's a little bit more sore today. But I've still got more time — I've got more than 24 hours left to try to get ready to go play, but right now, it's not looking great. But I'm not giving up on it."