Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
IT WAS OVER WHEN...
Kyle Korver hit a pair of free throws to put the Cavaliers ahead by seven with 18.5 seconds remaining. In their final game of the season, the Toronto Raptors pushed until the final buzzer sounded, dropping a 109-102 decision to Cleveland. The Cavaliers won the series 4-0 to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Kyle Lowry did not suit up in uniform for Sunday's game. Though he spent Saturday getting treatment in hopes of being able to play, the ankle sprain suffered in Game 2 prevented him from being able to be on the court with his teammates. Cory Joseph remained in the starting lineup in place of Lowry for the second consecutive game, while P.J. Tucker also moved into the starting five alongside DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas.
ALL EVEN AFTER ONE
Toronto got off to a solid start on Sunday, leading throughout most of the first quarter. The Raptors led by 11 with 2:38 remaining in the quarter before allowing Cleveland to close the quarter on a 13-2 run to tie the game at 28 all after the opening 12 minutes. Both teams shot well in the quarter, with the Cavaliers shooting 50 percent and the Raptors 57 percent. Toronto moved the ball well in the opening quarter, assisting on nine of 12 made field goals. The Raptors had well-balanced scoring to start, with Serge Ibaka leading the way with seven points and P.J. Tucker and DeMar DeRozan each adding five points. LeBron James led all scorers with 10 points for the Cavaliers.
DAMAGE FROM DEEP
After that hot shooting start, the Raptors offence cooled down to 42 percent in the second quarter, while giving up 52 percent shooting to Cleveland. The Cavs caught fire from beyond the arc thanks to Kyle Korver who came off the bench to play the entire quarter. He shot 6-for-8 from the floor and 4-for-6 from three as he scored 16 points in a quarter where Toronto was scoreless from deep. Thanks to Korver's hot-shooting, the Cavaliers outscored Toronto 33-21 in the second quarter to take a 61-49 lead into the half. Korver and James each led Cleveland with 16 points while Serge Ibaka's 13 points led the Raptors.
The Raptors came out of the locker room after halftime ready to put points in the board. Toronto shot 55 percent in the third quarter while holding Cleveland to 45 percent shooting. After giving up 10 3-pointers in the first half, the Raptors held the Cavs to three in the third while starting connect on some of their own, shooting 4-of-11 from downtown as they outscored Cleveland 31-24 in the third to trim a 12-point lead down to five, 85-80, heading into the fourth. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors in the third with nine points, while Serge Ibaka added seven points. Cory Joseph had six assists in the quarter. The Cavaliers were led by 10 points from LeBron James.
CLEVELAND CLOSING IT OUT
A P.J. Tucker 3-pointer got the Raptors within two on Toronto's first possession of the final quarter. It also fired up an Air Canada Centre that only got louder when a Fred VanVleet 3-pointer trimmed Cleveland's lead to a point with 9:51 remaining. Toronto took the lead, 93-92, on a three-point play from Serge Ibaka with 6:38 remaining. From there, the Cavaliers reeled off a 14-2 run to take an 11-point lead with 2:54 remaining. Kyrie Irving scored 11 of the 14 in the Cleveland flurry. Despite Toronto's best efforts, they were unable to connect on multiple looks from beyond the arc and the Cavaliers used Irving's 11-point fourth quarter effort to close out the series.
RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Cory Joseph left everything on the floor on Sunday, his second game starting in place of the injured Kyle Lowry. Joseph played 40 minutes in the loss, finishing with 20 points, a game-high 12 assists, six rebounds and a steal. He shot 8-for-11 from the floor, made his only 3-point attempt and was 3-for-3 from the free throw line.
UNDERRATED RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME
P.J. Tucker played 46 minutes on Sunday, giving everything he had as he tried to slow LeBron James. Tucker finished with 14 points, a game-high 12 rebounds both playoff career-highs, to go along with an assist and four steals in 46 minutes. He was 5-for-11 from the floor and 4-for-7 from beyond the arc. DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points to go with eight assists and four rebounds in 46 minutes. DeRozan was 8-for-18 from the floor and 6-for-9 from the free throw line.
THAT'S A RAP...
"It's tough. We know we could have played better in the first three games. We didn't. First of all, I want to congratulate the Cleveland Cavaliers. I think they're a well-oiled machine, playing on all cylinders right now. What did James shoot, 48 percent from 3 the whole series? When he's hitting the shot like that, they're very difficult to beat. You've got to match tit for tat to beat them. To answer your question, I thought we could have played better the first three games. Today, I thought the guys played. In that do-or-die situation, guys can easily pack it in. I thought our guys played with grit, toughness, togetherness. I think it's a testament to their character and the culture that those guys have created. We all want to win. I don't know if we're there yet. We're knocking on the door. I like our team. I wish we had a little more time to gel together. I didn't do a good enough job getting them to gel, quick enough to play at a championship level. But each guy in that offence contributed in some way." - Dwane Casey on a tough second-round series against the Cavaliers
BY THE #'S
16... made 3-pointers for Cleveland compared to 10 for Toronto. The Cavs shot 16-for-41 from beyond the arc (39 percent), while Toronto connected on 10-of-29 attempts (35 percent).
36... Rebounds for the Cavaliers, 29 for the Raptors.
33... Bench points scored by Cleveland compared to 15 for Toronto. Kyle Korver led the Cavs reserves with 18 points off the bench.
13... Turnovers for Toronto leading to 17 points scored by the Cavaliers. Cleveland turned the ball over 11 times, but Toronto scored just nine points off their miscues.
16... Fast break points scored by the Cavaliers, zero for the Raptors.
23... Points for Serge Ibaka to lead the Raptors offensively.
35... Points, nine rebounds, six assists in 46 minutes for LeBron James to lead the Cavaliers.
THEY SAID IT...
"At the end of the day, you gotta give them credit. They're a hell of a team for a reason. They got one of the greatest players of all time. It's on us to let this sink in and understand we gotta come back extremely better, individual and team wise. It's something that we got great experience with playing these guys two years in a row. We just gotta figure it out. We gotta figure it out."- DeMar DeRozan on a long offseason and giving Cleveland credit
"It's tough. You surround LeBron with shooters and he draws so much attention that if you help a little bit too much he finds them and they knock them down on a consistent basis and we weren't able to knock down our threes. We had some great looks but for some reason they just weren't fall."- Patrick Patterson on Cleveland's roster creating problems with their 3-point shooting
"He did a great job. Physicality was huge for us since the time he came to the team. He's been very, very helpful for us, obviously it's very, very tough to guard LeBron James, he's a great player, we all know that. With that being said, he did a good job."- Cory Joseph on P.J. Tucker's effort against LeBron James
"Anytime you go against someone who wants to compete you respect that and PJ has been like that since we were kids, all the way through AAU ball, high school, Texas and since he's been part of this league, he's always been a guy that at the end of day is never going wonder if he left it all on out there and as a competitor I can always respect that. Going against him over the years and since we were kids, it was definitely fun to be a part of."- LeBron James with praise for P.J. Tucker's defence against him
"It's hard to say. If's and but's are candy and nuts and we'd all have a Merry Christmas. But nobody really cares. I know Cleveland didn't care. Nobody cares. You always would love to have a training camp with the group to start from scratch but we didn't. I was so happy and it was a great move by our organization to get those guys because they kind of stand for what we needed. We just picked a bad number to draw in the second round or semi-finals. Again, it feels bad and it was ugly but it shouldn't diminish that excellent regular season we had and could have even had a better regular season. I think this group can gel and continue to grow and I know that is a tough word but grow together and even get better. I think we picked a team to go against that was a buzzsaw."- Dwane Casey on if having more time for his team to gel post trade-deadline would have made a difference in the postseason
The Toronto Raptors will have exit interviews at Bio Steel before departing for the offseason following their second consecutive 50-win season.