2016 NBA Eastern Conference Finals: Toronto Raptors withstand Cleveland Cavaliers comeback to tie Eastern Conference Finals

2016 NBA Eastern Conference Finals: Toronto Raptors withstand Cleveland Cavaliers comeback to tie Eastern Conference Finals

The Toronto Raptors have now won two games in a row against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had not lost a single game before this series. The Raptors have made significant adjustments following two huge losses on the road, ultimately in their benefit as they have now tied the series.

Raj Sawhney

The Toronto Raptors outlasted a late Cleveland Cavaliers comeback to tie the series at two games a piece, handing Cleveland their second loss of the postseason.  After losing two games on the road in Cleveland, the Raptors bounced back huge with two massive home wins against a team that was yet to lose in the playoffs before coming north of the border. 

Cleveland had faced few issues in their prior two series before this Eastern Conference Finals matchup, however the Raptors have made significant adjustments and have taken advantage of their home crowd to make for the biggest threat the Cavaliers have faced in this post season.

Game summary

Toronto, similarly to game one, got off to a hot start taking an early lead over the Cavaliers, utilizing the well rounded play of the entire team along with the momentum of the Air Canada Center.  Cleveland, on the other hand, struggled to find a consistent flow as key players like Kevin Love and J.R. Smith struggled from the field. Demare Carroll led the Raptors in the first quarter with seven points, followed by DeMar Derozan’s 6. The Cavaliers got significant contributions from Kyrie Irving, who struggled greatly in game three, with his leading seven points. LeBron James added six points but Toronto ultimately led 27-24 at the end of the first. 

Toronto managed to significantly widen the gap in the second quarter, fighting their way to a massive 57-41 lead going into halftime. Kyle Lowry, who has been on a roller coaster these entire playoffs, caught fire in the second quarter, ultimately putting up 20 in the first half which matches his game three scoring total. DeRozan continues to play well as he added 10 points to Toronto’s first half onslaught. 

In addition to the strong play of their stars, the Raptors also controlled the pace of the game, creating significant problems for a Cleveland team that had seen little opposition before coming to play in Toronto. Cleveland’s shooting numbers continued to drop in the second quarter, falling below 40 percent from the field and less than 14 percent from the 3-point line, which is very uncharacteristic of a Cleveland team that set records from behind the arch in these playoffs. James led the team in first half scoring with 16 points and Irving added 11, but no other player put up more than five points, negating Cleveland’s chances to fight back against a scorching Toronto team. 

Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry face off in game four. (Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images)
Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry face off in game four. (Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images)

The Cavaliers came out of the locker room following halftime more focused than they had been for the majority of the game as they fought to slowly cut away at Toronto’s lead.  Irving going going in the third, hitting shots from all over the floor in an attempt to cut away Cleveland’s deficit to the best of his ability.  Toronto, however, continued to play hard and maintained a 78-69 lead to end the third.  Lowry ended the quarter with 26 points, followed by DeRozan’s 20.  Irving led Cleveland with 23 points while James had 21.

The fourth quarter become a much more tightly contested match, as Cleveland refused to give up, continually cutting at Toronto’s lead.  Channing Frye came up huge to start the fourth quarter, hitting multiple threes off the bench to help propel Cleveland to their first lead of the game.  After trading multiple buckets, however, Toronto was able to regain the lead by the resilient effort and confidence of their two All-Stars, Lowry and DeRozan, ultimately notching a 105-99 victory at home.  Lowry led the team with 35 huge points, while DeRozan once again dropped 32, both shooting the ball very effectively.  James had 29 points for Cleveland and Irving bounced back after a rough game three with 26, but the short sparks were unable to secure Cleveland the comeback victory.

Each team has now won both home games in this series.  At least six games are now guaranteed as the series heads back to Cleveland all tied up.

Coming up

Game five will be played at Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday, May 25.