Bless the condensed schedule in the second round of the NBA playoffs. Two full days of waiting between Games 1 and 2 against the Bucks nearly drove the Raptors fan base insane with dread. After what happened on Monday to open the Cavs series, a second off day to question Toronto's validity as a franchise would have been cruel.
The Raptors are bound to look different tonight. Dwane Casey's lineup choices were hit and miss in Game 1, and the convincing loss highlighted a conundrum with the roster: what worked in the regular season won't cut it against the Cleveland behemoth. Jonas Valanciunas' role for the remainder of the series is murky, while Norman Powell, DeMarre Carroll, P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson will be competing for a finite number of minutes at the forward positions.
Casey can make all the rotation tweaks he wants, but if Kyle Lowry doesn't replicate or improve upon his Game 1 showing, and DeMar DeRozan doesn't enhance his offensive output, and the defensive awareness doesn't sharpen,and the Cavs don't display at least some human traits, improvement on margins won't matter much.
Winning four out of six games against Cleveland seems nearly impossible; knocking one game off the margin of error with a loss tonight would be suicide. Toronto needs to win tonight in order to maintain any illusions they might have of moving on.
Read the preview, enjoy the game, and comment away. May LeBron have mercy on your souls.