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Game 1 Turning Point: Late misses undo Raps’ 4th quarter momentum

Toronto had multiple chances to close Game 1 vs. the Cavs in the final few minutes. Instead, the Raptors’ shot went awry, and the team couldn’t get it done.

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

Well, that hurts.

Toronto seemingly lost Game 1 because of some awful late-game misses, and there’s really no other blame to be placed. Rotations were solid, the team had a game plan that worked (which they forgot in the final few minutes), but a couple guys couldn’t make key plays when they had the chance to make them.

One of those players was Jonas Valanciunas, who dominated the third quarter only to find himself completely wanting in the final frame (which won’t be good for Casey’s confidence in him going forward). Valanciunas’ misses ended up being the difference in a win and a loss in the opening game of the East Semi-Finals, and while the blame isn’t solely on him, those misses were certainly the most prominent aspect of an overall limp fourth quarter performance from the entire team.

In all, Valanciunas missed five shots from within five feet in the final four minutes. Other things happened — Fred VanVleet missed a couple of big shots, Serge Ibaka had a wide open corner three he too missed — but JV’s misses feel like the only thing a majority of fans will remember about last night’s game. The sum up the absolute frustration Toronto feels this morning, knowing the Raptors let Game 1 slip away.

Just in case you did forget: the first series of misses came with just over three minutes remaining, with Toronto hoping to increase a tenuous three-point lead.

It hurts to relive the moment, but watch how close these put-backs were to going in:

After the Raptors’ starters began to sub back into the game around the six minute mark of the 4th (including OG Anunoby for the first time in the playoffs), Toronto’s offense went ice cold. That five-man unit made just a single (1) field goal over the final 5:00 minutes of regulation.

Again this loss doesn’t rest entirely on Valanciunas — but his misses felt the most critical because of how simple they looked. On the game, JV went for 21 points and 21 rebounds, but still, yikes:

There is indeed a lid on the rim, Mr. Eagle.

And here’s an accurate summary of how we all feel about it: