The tone has been funereal in Toronto for the past week, and with good reason. The Raptors spent all season preparing for a re-match with the Cleveland Cavaliers, even rejigging a chunk of their team in the process, and the results through three games have been... uninspiring. It's a sad moment to realize your best is not good enough. I suspect we've all been there in our own lives, but to watch it play out on and off the court with these Raptors has been tough. They will not be able to come back from this one.
It's been difficult because, while all good things must come to an end, it is (as our pal Harsh declared) hard to let go. This has been the best, most consistent (even in their inconsistency), Raptors squad of all time. The highs of 2001 were very high, but they were also very brief. This was a Raptors team designed to compete over the long haul, and they have for four solid years, through ups and downs, injuries, and everything else that comes along with that. Unfortunately, all things end with LeBron James, and we're arriving at that climactic moment now. Toronto's best is just not good enough.
Still, the team has to, and wants to, play the games. There's not a ton of news to report coming into today's game.
It feels likely the Raptors will roll with their starting lineup of Cory Joseph, DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell, Patrick Patterson and Serge Ibaka. We have updated information here: the Raptors are going to roll with Cory Joseph, DeMar DeRozan, P.J. Tucker, Serge Ibaka, and Jonas Valanciunas in the starting lineup.
We know that Kyle Lowry remains doubtful -- with Dwane Casey saying "I don't think he's going to go" -- and that Jonas Valanciunas will be leveraged off the bench. It remains to be seen if the Raptors will shoot better than 2-of-18 from three point range, or if the Cavs will shoot south of 50 percent (which would be nice).
It feels like the sadness of this series has been talked and written to death, so I'll just leave this here. It's been a hell of a ride. And if this is indeed the last game of the season -- or of an era as we currently conceive of it -- I'm glad we got to watch it. Win or lose today, let's remember that.