It’s been a few years since the Raptors have been in this situation, down 0-3 in a playoff series. As is usual for this young, improving team, nothing was the same.
Last time was in 2015, when Toronto was well-behind the eight ball in their series against the Washington Wizards. With an injured Kyle Lowry, a turnstile defence, and a limited number of answers for a braggadocios Wizards team (one whose attitude hasn’t changed all that much in the three years since), Game 4 felt like a funeral more than anything.
This time, there’s little rays of sunshine. Of course, you know that no team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit in any NBA playoff round. Still, the Raptors have been right there in two of the three losses. In Game 1, a night that’ll haunt my dreams for a good decade, there were the three missed put backs. In Saturday’s Game 3, there was... well, LeBron James doing that thing he does. For all the mistakes it seems like the Raptors have made, they’ve been right there.
So this Game 4 shouldn’t feel like a funeral. The Raptors certainly aren’t treating it as such, as they’ve spent the better part of two days talking about pride and the need to finish situations. Also, it’d be pretty damn sweet to hear that Air Canada Centre crowd cheer for this 59-win team one more team.
So, to hell with it. There’s lots to celebrate from this Raptors season and I’m not ready for it to end yet. They are a fun squad, a relatable squad, and maybe we can get them for a few more days (at the least).
As for actual updates, there’s been radio silence again for Dwane Casey’s starting lineup and whether he’ll stick with Fred VanVleet or bring back Serge Ibaka (or go with something different). We’ll update this post closer to game time with what the result ends up being.
For your full game preview, read Ben Scott’s piece from this morning. Here are the rest of the details.
Where to Watch
Canada - TSN National
United States - TNT
8:30 PM ET
Cleveland - George Hill, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Kevin Love
Toronto [Updated] - Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, C.J. Miles, Serge Ibaka
Cleveland - none
Toronto - none