When the Toronto Raptors needed Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan the most, they came through. The two All-Star backcourt duo's combined for 67 points to lead the Raptors to a 105-99 Game 4 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night. Lowry led all scorers with 35 points on 14 for 20 shooting. The Raptors have tied the series at two games apiece and go into Cleveland with all the momentum.
What needs to Change for the Cavs for Game 5
It was all but quiet on the Cavs end as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving carried the team on their backs. James played most of the game, with 45 minutes, scoring a team-high 29 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Irving also poured in 26 points and had six assists. The two shot over 50 percent from the field but it was the team as a whole who didn't play well.
Kevin Love, a key player for the Cavs, couldn't get anything to fall. He shot 4 for 14 from the field for 10 points and seven rebounds. A no-show from the Cavs supporting cast led to a hungry Raptors team to tie the series. A repeat performance like this will have the Raptors take Game 5. The Cavs must go back to what they did in Games 1 and 2 to get back on track.
The Cavs game plan from Games 1 and 2 seemed to have disappeared. The entire Cavs team was a well-oiled machine but when the series shifted to Toronto, they forgot who they were. The Cavs shot an abysmal 13 for 41, for 31 percent from deep and had only 36 points in the paint for the game. These two areas are what brought the Cavs to the Eastern Conference Finals and the Cavs need to shoot it better as well as to attack the paint in Game 5 to win. James and Irving did their end but it is Love and the supporting cast who need to follow through.
Another area the Cavs need to fix for Game 5 is that the ball was sticking at times. Irving would go into isolation mode early in the shot-clock and settle for a jump shot. Head coach Tyronn Lue and the Cavs need to find a way to move the ball around to find the best shot rather than taking the first shot. With James and Irving carrying the team, Game 5 is now in the hands of Love, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and Matthew Dellavedova. They need to have a better performance in order to win Game 5.
What the Raptors need to do to Keep Rolling for Game 5
The Raptors' defense couldn't have been any better than it was in Game 4. Although the Cavs made a rally late in the fourth quarter to lead by three points, the Raptors locked down and took care of the paint. The bulk of the Raptors' points in the fourth quarter came inside as they took it to the weak interior defense of the Cavs. Lowry, DeRozan, Cory Joseph and Patrick Patterson all settled less for three point shots and instead drove to the basket for inside shots. The Raptors shot 53 percent from the field and scored 44 points in the paint. Head coach Dwane Casey's point of emphasis worked out in driving to the basket as the Cavs average only four blocks a game. If the Raptors continue to attack the paint and settle less for jump shots, they could win Game 5.
Game 3 hero for the Raptors, Bismack Biyombo, led the way on defense. He blocked three shots and it was clear that the Cavs did not want to drive to the paint with Biyombo holding the paint down. With Biyombo playing his part on defense, DeMarre Carroll, Joseph and Lowry followed. They shut the Cavs down in last four minutes of the game when the Cavs went 1 for 10 from the field for three points. The Raptors need to continue playing defense like this in order to win Game 5.
With tweaks from the Cavs and the same effort for the Raptors, Game 5 will no doubt be a close one. Looking at history, LeBron James is 7-5 all-time when series is tied 2-2. Game 5 should be a good one, tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.