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NBA Playoffs: DeMar DeRozan should have played the entire 4th quarter

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Toronto should’ve gone down swinging rather than sticking to the norm.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Toronto Raptors - Game Three Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Raptors were down just two, 79-77, going into the fourth quarter last night. Things were somehow going their way, despite a woeful shooting performance (43.7% from the floor, 2-of-18 from three), as the Cavs looked totally disinterested in giving much of an effort at all. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were planning their post game activities on King West and LeBron was going through the motions with the bench unit.

DeMar DeRozan kept the Raps afloat in the third quarter, and as the only one consistently creating offence, it seemed totally bizarre that Dwane Casey would stick with his usual rotation and give DeRozan a spell to begin the fourth, especially with Lowry sidelined. But rest DeRozan did.

As the fourth quarter began, Cleveland blitzed Toronto with an immediate 8-2 run, and any hope the Raps would steal a game from the sleepy Cavs was gone in a snap.

Kyle Korver went vintage Korver, Tristan Thompson grabbed a soft and one on PJ Tucker, and then even D-Will turned back the clock with a tidy step back.

DeRozan and Cory Joseph checked back in following the timeout, but it was too little too late, as LeBron closed the Raps out harder than college kids at the Maddy on a Friday night.

Post-game, DeRozan said he could’ve gone the entire fourth quarter and it wasn’t his decision to come out. It feels bad to pick on Casey as the end is near, but this may have sealed the fate if their was a shred of hope that the Raptors could’ve fought their way back into this series with an impromptu victory without Kyle Lowry.

If DeMar had played those two minutes to open the fourth would it have stopped LeBron from going god level to put the game out of reach? Probably not, but the loss may have ended up as a competitive one, rather than one in which the Raptors got run off the floor once again.