The script had began to really feel acquainted for the Raptors properly earlier than a Fred Van Vleet three-pointer rimmed out within the remaining seconds of additional time, wrapping up a 113–112 Game 1 loss to the Cavaliers within a deflated Air Canada Centre. This specific breakneck playoff end was not enjoyable—to not watch unfold, actually not for Toronto, and perhaps not even for a gassed Cleveland group, not less than not till it was over.
For a sport that included one more reckoning of a shot from LeBron James, fading away over rookie OG Anunoby with 30 seconds left in regulation to tie it, this was at all times actually extra concerning the Raptors. It’s tough to border this loss every other approach than a squandering of management, in a sport they led by 10 factors with 10 minutes left within the fourth quarter. And someplace alongside that remaining stretch of a 26-point, 13-assist, 11-rebound triple double from LeBron the vibe shifted from “game Cavs can probably afford to lose” to “game the Raptors all of a sudden probably can’t.”
A late Cleveland push was coupled with a shocking Toronto drought—the Raptors shot zero–11 from the sector within the remaining four:19 of regulation, weathered all of it proper up till James’s shot. They’d fought by robust showings from Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and Jeff Green. Then the ultimate eight seconds of the fourth quarter went like this:
7.5 seconds left: Fred VanVleet misses 27-foot three level jumper
7.5 seconds left: DeMar DeRozan offensive rebound
5.5 seconds left: DeRozan misses Eight-foot soar shot
5.5 seconds left: C.J. Miles offensive rebound
three.5 seconds left: Miles misses tip shot
three.5 seconds left: Jonas Valanciunas offensive rebound
1.5 seconds left: Valanciunas misses tip shot
1.5 seconds left: LeBron James defensive rebound.
If you imagine in momentum, additional time felt like a foregone conclusion, with James aiding on enormous threes from Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith, the Raptors leaning on robust pictures from DeMar DeRozan, preventing again inside some extent, and one other missed shot from VanVleet tying it collectively on the finish.
Toronto has misplaced seven straight playoff conferences with Cleveland, courting again to the 2016 East Finals and together with final yr’s clear sweep within the semis. Tuesday evening was only one loss, however as you could have heard, it’s onerous to beat LeBron James 4 instances in seven tries, and even tougher after dropping on your private home courtroom, and tougher nonetheless when that loss comes with an additional two days of relaxation in your favor.
Believe it or not, there have been precise positives for the Raptors—Lowry, Valanciunas and DeRozan had their moments, Anunoby did his finest to trouble James, and their bench confirmed its mettle. But even a sport that included a number of courtside confrontations between Drake and Kendrick Perkins managed to be outlined by a disappearing act. There’s time to repair it, however unexpectedly it’s an uphill climb. Game 2 is Thursday.