While I was in Maine this weekend, Game 3 between the Cavaliers and Raptors took place, because the NBA doesn’t start and stop around my schedule, as much as I wish it would. Anyway, the Raptors actually went and won a game, 99-84, thanks in part to a franchise Playoff record 26 rebounds from Bismack Biyombo. For all his hard work on the boards, he received a shot to the nuts from Dahntay Jones, who has been suspended for tonight. Teammate LeBron James has said that he will cover Jones’ fine, which only amounts to 80 bucks because it’s a small percentage of his salary, which is so low because he was signed on the last day of the season. The fine, nor the suspension’s impact on the series really amounts to much, since Jones really only plays in garbage time.
In the day’s other big ball-kicking news, Golden State’s Draymond Green will not be suspended for hitting Steven Adams in the sack in last night’s game against the Thunder. As the day dragged on and no decision was heard, Basketball Twitter waited with baited breath. Finally, word came down from the NBA that he won’t be suspended, but will be assessed a flagrant-two and fined. Now we can all move on with our lives.
Finally, the Raptors, coming off their Game 3 win, received some good news on the injury front, as Jonas Valanciunas is active for tonight’s game, having missed the previous seven. It sounds like he’ll be coming off the bench tonight, so we’ll still get to see plenty of Bismack Biyombo patrolling the paint.
8:28 pm – We’re welcomed to Toronto by our narrators, Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. After the Raptors surprised a lot of people by winning Game 3, they have a shot to make this an interesting series. There’s not many people who would have imagined that this series would be tied after four games, but that’s exactly what the Raptors will try to do tonight. However, it’s a good bet that Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving won’t struggle like they did in Game 3, where they combined to shoot an awful 4-28 from the field. Can they keep the Raptors from tying things up? That’s what we’re here to find out.
8:35 – Mike Breen reminds us that it’s Victoria Day in Canada, so, happy Victoria Day to our Canadian readers!
8:37 – The Raptors win the opening tip, and we’re underway up at the Air Canada Centre. Kyle Lowry immediately hits a jumper to put Toronto ahead, 2-0.
— NBA (@NBA) May 24, 2016
8:39 – Kevin Love gets to the hoop along the baseline and gets the ball to roll into the hoop. It gets Cleveland on the board, and the trail 4-2.
8:42 – Bismack Biyombo lays in an alley-oop from Kyle Lowry, and the Cavs take a time out with the score Toronto 13, Cleveland 5 with 7:22 left in the first quarter. The Raptors are shooting 6-10 to start the game, while the Cavs are down at 2-10 shooting so far.
— NBA (@NBA) May 24, 2016
8:50 – LeBron James goes in along the baseline and gets a nice lay in against Bismack Biyombo. It leads to a Raptors time out with the score Toronto 18, Cleveland 17 with 4:28 left in the first quarter. After withstanding the first punch from the Raptors, the Cavs have struck back with a 7-0 run to make this a one point game.
— NBA (@NBA) May 24, 2016
8:58 – We have our first Drake sighting of the night, and he’s particularly exasperated after DeMarre Carroll gets called for a blocking foul that the Toronto fans feel should have gone the other way. One guess who he was guarding.
9:00 – We’re here at the end of the first quarter with the score Toronto 27, Cleveland 24. After getting off to a poor start, the Cavs got right back into this one, but so far, the Raptors have been able to keep them from snagging a lead.
9:05 – James Johnson gets himself to the basket for a layup, scoring the first basket of the second quarter and getting Toronto’s lead up to 29-24.
9:07 – Johnson attempts to drive around Matthew Dellavedova, who hits him across the face and chest, then grabs Johnson’s hands as he carries the ball, and for some reason, a jump ball is called. In fact, the Cavs haven’t been called for one damn foul so far in this one.
9:09 – Dellavedova gets called for a foul, and it leads to the always awesome sarcastic cheer from the fans. It also leads to a time out with the score Toronto 31, Cleveland 26 with 8:56 left until halftime.
9:16 – Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson are debating the non-suspension of Draymond Green. It’s even more horrible than you think. On top of that, this game has been pretty good, and they’ve just stopped talking about it like we’re in the middle of another blowout.
9:18 – We’ve got a time out with the score Toronto 42, Cleveland 33 with 5:39 left in the first half. The Cavs are shooting just 3-19 from three point land, a far cry from their otherworldly long range shooting in the Semifinals. Meanwhile, the Raptors are a solid 6-13 from downtown as they’ve built their lead back up.
9:22 – Patrick Patterson takes a nice pass from Kyle Lowry and puts it in the hoop, and the Cavs need another time out as the score’s now Toronto 48, Cleveland 35 with 4:33 left in what’s been a productive second quarter for the home team.
9:34 – A “BULLSHIT!” chant after LeBron James goes up to finish off an alley-oop with a dunk, only to have Bismack Biyombo head him off at the pass with what looked like an awesome block! Of course, LeBron has the call go his way, and it’ll be the third foul on Biyombo.
Clean or nah? pic.twitter.com/uQaLwXA1mg
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 24, 2016
9:35 – We’re here at halftime with the score Toronto 57, Cleveland 41. The Raptors came alive in the second quarter, especially Kyle Lowry, who sprung for 15 points in the quarter alone to get himself up to 20 for the game. DeMar DeRozan has chipped in with ten points to help lead the Raptors to this big halftime lead. LeBron James has 16 to lead the Cavs, and Kyrie Irving has 11, but Cleveland’s shooting just 3-22 from long range, and are clearly frustrated on offense.
9:40 – It’s time for tonight’s exciting episode of Today in NBA Playoff History, brought to you by the scholars over at Basketball-Reference!
May 23rd has been a fairly quiet day in NBA Playoff History, but let’s take it back to 1984 where the Celtics punched their ticket to the Finals with a 115-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, securing a 4-1 series win. Larry Bird led six Celtics who scored in double-figures with 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Robert Parish had 17 & 11. Marques Johnson scored 24 to lead the Bucks, and Mike Dunleavy came up with 21 points and 5 rebounds, but the Bucks fell short, while the Celtics would go on to win a classic Finals against the Lakers in seven games.
9:53 – DeMar DeRozan hits a floater, and the Raptors score first in the second half to extend their lead to 59-41.
10:01 – Kevin Love goes up for a dunk, and it’s blocked by Bismack Biyombo! This time he’s not called for a foul, and we can all enjoy an awesome play.
Bismack Biyombo: Can’t stop, won’t stop. pic.twitter.com/RE0vrJPYww
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 24, 2016
10:07 – Kyle Lowry gets to the hoop for a layup, and he’s up to 26 points. Meanwhile, the Cavs need to call a time out with the score Toronto 71, Cleveland 56 with 3:59 left in the third. After cutting the Cavs cut their deficit down to single digits, the Raptors have responded nicely when it looked like Cleveland was primed to go on one of their big runs.
10:13 – Speaking of one of Cleveland’s big runs, JR Smith hits a three, and Toronto’s lead is down to eight. They take a time out with the score Raptors 73, Cavaliers 65 with 1:43 left in the quarter.
— NBA (@NBA) May 24, 2016
10:18 – A lively third quarter ends with the score Toronto 78, Cleveland 69. Every time the Cavs have looked like they’re about to storm back into this game, the Raptors tack on a few points to get their lead back up to a more comfortable level. If they can keep it up for one more quarter, this series will head back to Cleveland tied at two. Of a more immediate concern, Kevin Love went hobbling to the Cavs bench as the quarter ended. Hopefully he’s okay and can continue on as we head down the stretch of this one.
10:23 – Richard Jefferson gets to the basket for a reverse layup. Not only is it the first points of the fourth quarter, it cuts the Raptors lead to 78-71. Meanwhile, no Kevin Love to start off the quarter for the Cavs. A replay shows that he turned his ankle just before the end of the third.
10:25 – Channing Frye cans a three, and, well, it’s now a one point game as the Cavs are 8-10 from downtown in the second half after their yucky three point shooting in the first half. The score’s Toronto 78, Cleveland 77 with 10:15 left in the game. Can the Raptors hang on?
10:29 – Kyle Lowry takes a nice pass from Patrick Patterson and lays it in, plus he’s fouled hard. He gets up, shakes himself off, and makes his free throw, putting the Raptors up, 81-77. Lowry’s up to 29 points on the night.
10:30 – Channing Frye hits another three, and once again, it’s a one point game with Cleveland trailing 81-80. It doesn’t last long before Cory Joseph hits a hook shot to get the Raptors lead up to 83-80, but the Cavs strike back with an alley-oop to LeBron James, putting their deficit back to one at 83-82.
10:31 – LeBron James barrells his way to the hoop for a layup, and the Cavs have their first lead of the game, but DeMar DeRozan responds with an off-balance shot from close range, and the Raptors lead, 85-84.
10:32 – Richard Jefferson puts in a lob from LeBron, and the Cavs go ahead 86-85. Cory Joseph comes back with a scoop shot off the glass to put the Raptors back on top, 87-86, but Matthew Dellavedova gets a shot to go, and the Cavs lead, 88-87.
10:33 – DeMar DeRozan gets into the paint and hits a floater, and the Cavs call a time out, which is great because I need it after trying to keep up with the recent flurry of activity. The score’s Toronto 89, Cleveland 88 with 6:41 left in the game. Both teams have forgotten how to miss, and the Cavs have actually made all eight of their shots here in the fourth quarter.
10:37 – Something unusual is happening as we return from the time out as Raptors security is on the scene. Looks like a fan has gotten themselves ejected for some reason.
10:38 – Okay, we’re back underway. By the way, Kevin Love is still on the bench for the Cavs. Richard Jefferson gets himself a dunk, and the Cavs retake the lead at 90-89.
10:39 – After a steal, LeBron gets fouled as he goes in for a lay up. He hits both of his free throws, and the Cavs lead extends to 92-89.
10:40 – With the shot clock running down, Kyle Lowry goes to the hoop, gets fouled, and hits the shot! His free throw goes in, and we’re tied up at 92. Lowry’s up to 32 points.
10:41 – LeBron James gets an easy dunk off a pass from Matthew Dellavedova, and the Cavs are now 10-10 from the field here in the fourth. DeMar DeRozan is unimpressed and hits a turnaround to keep this game tied, this time at 94.
10:42 – Richard Jefferson gets a dunk for the Cavs 11th straight shot, but DeRozan answers back once again with a jumper, and we’re tied up at 96.
10:43 – Channing Frye misses a three, ruining the Cavs perfect quarter.
10:44 – DeMar DeRozan goes 2-2 from the free throw line, and the Raptors are back in the lead at 98-96 as we go under four minutes remaining.
10:45 – DeMarre Carroll goes 1-2 from the free throw line, and it adds a point to the Raptors lead to get it up to 99-96.
10:46 – We’ve got a time out with the score still Toronto 99, Cleveland 96 with 2:56 left in the ball game. There’s still been no sign of Kevin Love here in the fourth. Meanwhile, Bismack Biyombo is being left open around the hoop on almost every possession as the Cavs defense collapses in on whoever’s handling the ball for the Raptors. However, they’ve been unable, and in some cases, apparently unwilling to pass him the ball for an easy look.
10:49 – Kyle Lowry gets a steal and goes to the hoop with LeBron in pursuit. Lowry’s able to slow up under the hoop and draw a foul against James. He goes 1-2 from the line, and the Raptors lead, 100-96.
10:52 – Kyrie Irving nails a deep three, and it gets the Cavs back to within two. They trail 101-99 as the game goes under two minutes on the clock.
10:52 – After an offensive rebound, DeMar DeRozan gets into the paint in banks in a shot! He’s up to 32 points now, and the Raptors lead is up to 103-99.
10:53 – Bismack Biyombo grabs an offensive rebound after Kyle Lowry misses a shot to try and beat the shot clock. The Raptors then call a time out with the score still Toronto 103, Cleveland 99 with just 42.2 seconds to go.
10:56 – Kyle Lowry takes it to the hoop for a layup! He’s got 35 points, and more importantly, he’s made the score Toronto 105, Cleveland 99 with 22.5 seconds left. The Cavs take a time out.
10:58 – JR Smith misses a three, but in the ensuing scrum for the rebound, Kyrie Irving comes up with it. He launches a three, but it misses, and Bismack Biyombo grabs the rebound! He’s fouled with 4.9 seconds on the clock, as the Raptors are going to hang on and win the ball game.
10:59 – Bismack Biyombo hears the “MVP!” chant as he’s at the line for the Raptors. He certainly has played well, but both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are over 30 points tonight, so maybe they should get the damn “MVP” chant, okay, Raptors fans? Anyway, he misses both free throws, and the Cavs get the rebound with 4.3 seconds to go.
11:01 – Kyrie Irving misses a three, and this game is over with a final score of Toronto 105, Cleveland 99.
What was once a crappy series that everyone wanted to just be over with, including myself, is now looking pretty damn good after the Raptors have tied the series, defying the expectations of everyone outside of Canada. Kyle Lowry led the way with 35 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists on 14-20 shooting. DeMar DeRozan scored 32 on 14-23 shooting, and Bismack Biyombo contributed 5 points and 14 rebounds. LeBron James led the Cavs with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists on 11-16 shooting. Kyrie Irving had 26 points and 6 assists, but despite a valiant effort which included fighting back from an 18 point first half deficit and hitting their first 11 shots of the fourth quarter, the Cavs fell short. Kevin Love didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter, so he’s either injured, or was benched. Either way, the plot has thickened as this has unexpectedly turned into a series over the last couple of days.
What a night for the Raptors and their fans. They’re now just two wins away from a spot in the Finals. Best Victoria Day ever, am I right? With the series heading back to Cleveland for Game 5, it won’t be easy for the Raptors to snag a win on the road, but they do seem to have figured out a way to slow down the Cavs offense. Either way, we can all be excited that this has become a good series, and I for one am delighted that we were horribly wrong about how this one was going to turn out.