clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Raptors Look to Move to Brink of Finals in Game 5 vs. Cavaliers: Preview, TV info and more

New, comments

The Toronto Raptors grabbed the attention of the entire NBA by winning two straight against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they'll look to drop those jaws even closer to the floor.

DeMar DeRozan, right, has been brilliant in the series.
DeMar DeRozan, right, has been brilliant in the series.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors are tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers after four games of the Eastern Conference Finals. Let that sink in for a minute.

Now that you've pinched yourself, it's time to see if the Raptors can truly drop some jaws and move within one win of an NBA Finals appearance. In order to do that, they'll have to steal a game from the Cavaliers on their home court.

A major question mark hanging over Game 5 is the status of Jonas Valanciunas. The Lithuanian was available to play on Monday night, but Dwane Casey opted to ride Bismack Biyombo to the promise land.

While a limited-minutes edition of Valanciunas would be nice for the Raptors, they have proven capable of beating the Cavaliers without him in the lineup. The matchups don't really favour the 24-year-old anyways as the Cavaliers like to use their bigs out on the perimeter, save for Tristan Thompson. Valanciunas doesn't really have the foot speed to effectively guard out there and recover on drives to the basket.

We'll leave JV's status update to our Game Thread later in the day, so for now, here are three things the Raptors need to do to walk out of Ohio with a 3-2 edge:

Play with the Lead:

Through four games of the series, one thing seems certain: The Cavaliers will flip a switch and go on an insane run at one point in time. In the first two games, Cleveland used second-quarter spurts to essentially put things away early. Toronto hadn't built up enough of a lead to be able to weather the storm and get back on track. Playing in front of their home crowd, the Raptors were able to get out to double-digit advantages in Games 3 and 4. As a result, when the Cavs made their run, the Raptors had enough of a cushion to be able to cope with it.

Furthermore, after seeing their 18-point advantage go right out the window late in Game 4, Toronto kept its cool and closed out the game with a run of its own. Being able to bounce back in the fourth quarter after squandering that large of a lead to an opponent this good speaks volumes as to how far the Raptors have come.

Continue to Attack:

The major talking point after Saturday's Game 3 victory was the lack of fouls called against the Cavaliers. Casey spoke out against the officiating in his post-game press conference and earned himself a hefty fine. The whistle continued to go against the Raptors to start Game 4, but by the time all was said and done, Toronto had outshot its visitors at the free-throw line by a 19-9 margin.

If the Raptors have any hopes of stealing a game on the road on Wednesday, they will need to maintain their aggressive approach and force the refs into making calls. Aside from the obvious offensive benefits, free-throws allow a team to set up its defence in the half-court, which is crucial when playing against an offensively gifted squad like the Cavaliers.

Don't Leave Frye:

Kevin Love struggled mightily in the two games north of the border, making only five of his 23 shot attempts for a total of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Frye, his replacement, had a really nice pair of games shooting the ball, connecting on seven of his 12 shots from beyond the arc. Having to defend against so many other weapons on the court makes it easy to forget about Frye, but the Raptors can't afford to give him the same looks he saw over the past two outings.

Where to Watch: Sportsnet at 8:30 p.m. ET