The Eastern Conference Finals switch home courts, as the Cleveland Cavaliers take their 2-0 lead into Canada, where the Toronto Raptors are hoping a change will do them and their struggling players some good.
The Raptors are hoping that going back home will mean Kyle Lowry does better. He’s just 8-for-28 from the field, shooting 1-for-15 from beyond the arc in games 1 & 2, averaging nine points. The Raptors are 6-2 when playing at home in this postseason, and were 32-9 during the regular season in Jurassic Park. It’s been a weird offseason for Lowry: He averaged 33 points over the final three games in the conference semifinals, but has seven games with 10 shots or more while making 30% or less. The only other player with that kind of struggle in a postseason is Hedo Turkoglu in 2009.
Lowry seems confident the losing, and especially his shooting slump against the Cavaliers, is going to end: They’ve done a good job of collapsing and getting the ball out of my hands. I’m making the right passes, we just haven’t made shots. I think we’ll make shots tomorrow. It looks a lot different when we make shots. Assists go up and turnovers go down. We have no reason not to be confident. We have to be. We got here for a reason. It wasn’t by luck. We had to beat two teams, we had to play a regular season. We got here for a reason.
The Raptors lost back to back games for the first time since late March, and haven’t lost three in a row since mid-November. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, are 10-0 in this postseason, two wins shy of the record set by the San Antonio Spurs in 1999, when they started out the postseason 12-0, finishing it with a championship, beating the New York Knicks 4-1 in the NBA Finals.
All the Cavaliers want is to keep things going their way. The pace, the spacing, the aggressiveness on defense. The Raptors have struggled stopping LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, and it seems like things are at their most difficult for them when Channing Frye is on the floor. He’s averaging nine points, shooting 57.1% from beyond the arc in this series, while the Cavaliers are +27 over the course of both games when he’s playing.
What I’ve got to do a better job of is finding the group to play with Channing Frye at the 5 and LeBron James at the 4. I have not done a good job of matching that group.
Dwane Casey might be putting the blame on himself for how mismatched this series has looked so far, but it’s hard to see the Raptors coming up with a lineup that gives them an advantage for long minutes. Maybe if Jonas Valanciunas was back, but right now, it doesn’t seem like hoping for him to make a miraculous return is doing the Raptors any good. They have to do it with their limited resources, and have to get more from DeRozan and especially Lowry.