The first ever Eastern Conference Finals game on Canadian soil went about as well as one could expect. The home town Raptors won, which is nice, but they also did so with some style and excitement. Bismack Biybombo played huge, Kyle Lowry was almost his old self, and even DeMar DeRozan has something of an efficient game. Also, two of the Cavs' big three (Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love) played poorly. Hey, a win is a win!
In advance of Game 4, there was plenty to talk about and a renewed energy surrounding the Raptors. Could they tie the series up? Have they unlocked the mystery of defeating the invincible LeBron James? And, hmm, what's this about Jonas Valanciunas?
First, and most important, it turns out Jonas went through today's shootaround and has been upgraded from "definitely out don't even think about it" to the more succinct "doubtful."
Jonas Valanciunas will be listed as doubtful (right ankle sprain) for Game 4. #rtz— RaptorsMR (@RaptorsMR) May 22, 2016
Which inspired some takes and words from coach Dwane Casey:
Valanciunas went through shootaround. Sounds about 50-50 to Dr. Woz— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) May 23, 2016
Despite report that Valanciunas is likely to play, the team is still listing him as "doubtful" and I'm told chances are worse than 50-50— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) May 23, 2016
Asked if Jonas Valanciunas (sprained ankle) will play in Game 4, Dwane Casey said, "We'll see." Some optimism within organization, too.— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) May 23, 2016
This puts the Raptors in an interesting position. It sounds as though Jonas is not 100 percent (and unlikely to get there soon) but his presence could open up some things on the offensive end for the team. The worry of course is that he won't yet be mobile or agile enough (which is a problem sometimes even when fully healthy) to chase around Love and Channing Frye if/when the Cavs go smaller and start bombing away. That said, if the Toronto crowd gets to see Valanciunas check into the game tonight... hooooooo boy.
Now, to catch your breath from that exciting news, here's Lowry's stance on finger wagging:
kyle lowry says he is pro-finger-wagging pic.twitter.com/WjMZgdrH8I— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) May 23, 2016
I'm glad we've cleared that up.
Now some inspiring words from Casey and hero Bismack Biyombo:
Biyombo is a flagrant away from a 1-game suspension but says he won't change the way he plays. "They're not going to take that away from me"— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) May 23, 2016
Casey: "We're not in this just to win one game, just to not get swept. We're in this to win. That's what we're here for"— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) May 23, 2016
q: "what do you need to do to keep the pressure on the cavs?"— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) May 23, 2016
For the best effect, read this tweet while playing the following movie clip, and then, sit, breath deeply, and prepare for Game 4 in eight hours.