TORONTO – Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey wanted his team to play Game 4 with pride.
“We understand the percentages of coming back from 3-0, but we’ve dug that hole for ourselves,” Casey before Sunday’s game. ‘We’re playing for pride. We’re playing for the sweat equity we’ve put in for 82 games.”
Give the Raptors this much: they didn’t roll over when the Cleveland Cavaliers took a 16-point early in the third quarter. They could have easily called it a season and watched Cleveland coast to another to victory.
The Raptors made the Cavs work for the series victory.
Cleveland defeated Toronto 109-102, advancing to the Eastern Conference finals where they will play with the winner of the Washington Wizards-Boston Celtics series.
The Cavaliers are the first team in NBA history to start 8-0 in consecutive postseasons.
Playing without All-Star Kyle Lowry (sprained left ankle) for a second consecutive game, the Raptors rebounded from a 69-53 deficit in the third quarter and had a 93-92 lead with 6:38 in the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, the Cavaliers had too much offense and defense. In the final 6:15 of the fourth Cleveland outscored Toronto 17-9, and during a crucial 11-2 Cavs run, Kyrie Irving scored all 11 Cleveland points.
James, who scored at least 30 points in all four games against Toronto and in seven of the eight playoff games, finished with 35 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He also had six turnovers.
Irving had 27 points, including 19 in the second half.
Beyond James, the difference once again? Three-point shooting. Toronto made one more field goal than Cleveland, but the Cavaliers made six more three-pointers.
Forward Serge Ibaka scored 23 points and guard DeMar DeRozan had 22 for Toronto.
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