For a stretch in the regular season, the Raptors almost categorically refused to be blown out. Sure, it still happened at times, but the larger feeling around this Toronto team was that they’d always fight to the end. Sometimes that meant coming back late for a surprising comeback, other times, not. But still, the pride was constant.
Unfortunately, as coach Dwane Casey mentioned his team’s pride after yet another defeat at the hands of the ruthless Cavs, his players were acknowledging a different sort of constant: LeBron James.
It’s been James’ ability to do everything on a basketball court that has singularly destroyed the Raptors. He’s averaging 36 points per game, shooting an insane 60 percent from the field (including, impossibly, 53 percent from 3), while grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing 5 assists, and overall holding his Cleveland squad together. LeBron is a cumulative +20 in this series so far. He’s good, so good in fact he’s gotten Kyle Lowry to admit to Woj at the Vertical the following:
“They’ve got LeBron James,” Lowry told The Vertical late Friday night. “Nobody’s closing the gap on him. I mean, that’s it right there: They’ve got LeBron James and nobody’s closing the gap on him.”
“I don’t know when his prime is going to stop,” Lowry told The Vertical. “I don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon. I think he’ll be able to continue what he’s doing for a long time. But that’s basketball. You’ve got to find a way to beat the best.”
Now, Lowry is about as proud a player as there’s ever been in a Toronto Raptors uniform. He’s also doubtful to go today in Game 4, having suffered an ankle injury in Game 2 after an errant Norman Powell was thrown into his leg. This is all building to a sad conclusion: the once proud Raptors going out on their home floor one more time — because if we’re honest, there’s no way they survive another game in Cleveland — without their leader, in an attempt to knock off the greatest player on the planet, the best player of his generation, and perhaps, when all is said and done, of all-time.
It’s a tall order.
The Raptors are a proud team, and getting swept would be an ignoble end to the greatest squad in franchise history. But from the chatter around the team, there does not appear to be much will left. The two constants have run into each other and LeBron has won so far.
So, we approach Game 4.
Who wins Game 4?
This poll is closed
Raptors, one more for old time’s sake
Cavaliers, no one survives