The Raptors have been in elimination games before this post-season. The went the full seven against both the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat in the first two rounds of the playoffs. That's a lot of stress. If they manage to beat the Cavaliers tonight, they'll be the first team since the 1988 Lakers to go for three seven-game series in a row. Not the best feat, sure, but something nonetheless.
It's something because, well, the Raptors have looked bad in all of their losses in this series against LeBron James and Cleveland. They're coming off an absolute shellacking in Game 5 in which just about every part of their game looked bad. When a returned-from-injury Jonas Valanciunas and his encouraging output in 18 minutes is your highlight, your team is on the wrong end of a beatdown.
Casey, asked if getting Valanciunas some run was a positive from Game 5: "That's probably the only positive that came out of it"— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) May 27, 2016
So how are the Raptors feeling in advance of Game 6, with their season on the line? Let's see.
is this kyle lowry??? pic.twitter.com/bSCMX5VusM— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) May 27, 2016
yes it is pic.twitter.com/abWMiAdrJV— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) May 27, 2016
Kyle Lowry is in good (sarcastic) spirits.
Lowry on what he's learned in the playoffs: "Don't lose Game 1."— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) May 27, 2016
Nothin to be nervous about. It's another basketball game. Win or go home. -- Lowry, who jokingly approached podium w/ his hoodie over face— Eric Smith (@Eric__Smith) May 27, 2016
DeMar DeRozan has also learned something valuable:
It gets harder...you don't see an easier way... -- DeRozan on what he has learned playing this long into the post season for the 1st time— Eric Smith (@Eric__Smith) May 27, 2016
We're anxious to get back out there -- DeRozan.— Eric Smith (@Eric__Smith) May 27, 2016
But the Raptors are up against something a little different this time around. For an assessment of LeBron James, human dynamo (or good monster, depending on who you ask), Dwane Casey has some words:
Casey says isn't sure if LeBron is human when it comes to fatigue. "He's running all over the place."— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) May 27, 2016
It's hard to disagree with this analysis. LeBron James has been just about as invincible as you'd expect. The only ploy that's worked on him so far, is when the Raptors have sagged off on him and dared him to shoot jumpers. He's hit a few, but this is definitely the best outcome by far these days when LeBron has the ball in his hands.
We have to end this on a less ominous note, however, so here's a funny anecdote regarding Casey's, uh, defense on the sidelines:
Casey says it's legal for him to clap, roam sidelines said he learned it from Jerry Sloan.— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) May 27, 2016
There's an old NBA maxim amongst coaches: If Jerry Sloan does it, you can do it too.
Now, onward to Game 6!