The odds of a Raptors series win in the Eastern Conference Finals are, sorry to say, still not great. The Cavaliers have LeBron James, and outside of a perfect storm of Raps' excellence and teammates disappearing, he'll probably head into the Finals for his sixth straight time.
This doesn't mean it has to be easy for him.
The Raptors have some things working in their favour. And that means it's time for another list:
- Kyle Lowry, who in Games 1 and 2 was something of a corpse, showed immense signs of life in Game 3. He shot 50 percent from 3 in the game, and while he only dished three assists, Lowry was affecting the game. This is good.
- DeMar DeRozan reminded everyone that he is actually extremely hard to guard when he's attacking the paint. God love him, but J.R. Smith is not the stopper he thinks he is and DeRozan proved it. Add in those downhill attacks on Kevin Love on switches, and DeRozan is making a difference.
- It was rather astounding to see Bismack Biybombo work over Tristan Thompson, an elite rebounder, so thoroughly in Game 3. He's shown that he's more than capable of doing that again -- the question is whether or not the Cavs will miss as many shots as they did on Saturday.
- The combo of Patrick Patterson and Cory Joseph did their thing. Patterson hit some shots and played smart to the tune of a +16, Joseph hounded Irving into an awful shooting night while finishing with 14 points of his own. These two are the difference makers in whatever lineup combination they find themselves in. When they're up, the Raptors are up.
- Could Jonas Valanciunas play? My head says no. He's not laterally quick enough with the injury to make putting him in the lineup worth it. Still, what if he dresses and sits on the bench? What if he checks in for a few minutes in front of this home crowd? What happens then?
The Raptors have their work cut out for them against the Cavaliers. We knew they couldn't shoot over 50 percent from everywhere on the floor forever, but it seems like a tall order to assume Love and Irving will shoot a combined 4-for-28 again. Things have to go right for Toronto. And it could happen.
To add fuel to the hopeful fire: the word now is that Jonas is ACTIVE. Whether he'll play is up for debate:
Casey says Jonas will go through warmups and see how he feels. He may play but it'll be limited minutes. #RTZ— Daniel Reynolds (@aka_Reynolds) May 23, 2016
Read up on all the details in Dan Grant's preview.
And then get in the comments. Let's do this thing.