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Playoff Journal, May 21

   by Larry Ness - 05/21/2016

Playoff Journal (May 21)

The Raptors hung with the Cavs for most of the first half of Thursday night’s game, coming off a 31-point blowout loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite another poor shooting outing from Kyle Lowry, Patterson’s three-pointer with just about four minutes left in the second quarter, got Toronto even with Cleveland at 46-all. However, the Raptors went 0 for 9 from the floor the rest of the quarter and a 16-2 run by the Cavs put Cleveland up 62-48 at the half. The Cavs went on ‘cruise control’ in the second half, on the way to a 108-89 win, the team’s 10th in a row to open the 2016 playoffs. That ties the 2012 Spurs for the best start in a single playoff season and leaves them one win away from matching the Lakers’ record 11 straight wins, accomplished in both 1989 and 2001. The victory also marked Cleveland’s 17th straight win against Eastern Conference opponents, breaking the record of 16 straight wins over Western Conference opponents, held by the Lakers (from 2000 through 2002).

LBJ recorded his 15th career playoff triple-double (23-11-11) and the Cavs leading scorer this postseason, Kyrie Irving (24.9 PPG), again led in scoring with 26 points. Love had 15 & 9 (is averaging 18.4 & 10.9 this postseason), as the Cavs shot 50.0 percent from the floor (shot 50.6 percent in Game 1). Getting back to LBJ, he also passed Shaq in career postseason scoring and now trails only Kobe, Kareem and MJ. Lowry was 4 of 14 from the floor, including 1 of 8 on threes, scoring just 10 points. He’s now 1 of 15 from three-point range after two games, with more TOs (9) than assists (8). DeRozan had a ‘quiet’ 18 points with the other three starters combining for only 16 points. Can the Raptors turn this around in Toronto? We will find out tonight at 8:35 ET on ESPN in Game 3.

Checking in on the postseason numbers to-date, home teams are 47-23 SU (.671) and 41-29 ATS (58.6%). Forty-three of the 70 games have stayed under (61.4%) and those following the Zig-Zag theory are 29-27 or minus-0.7 net games. Kyle Lowry says he isn't lacking confidence as the Eastern Conference finals shift to Toronto. "I think we'll be better at home," Lowry said practice Friday. "We're supposed to be better at home. We're down 2-0 but we haven't played on our home floor yet." Toronto is 6-2 at home in the playoffs after going 32-9 at Air Canada Centre in the regular season."We've got to go out tomorrow night and hold down our fort," said DeMar DeRozan, Toronto’s other All Star guard. What should we make of Lowry? He scored 96 points over the final three games against Miami but also has had SEVEN games this postseason with 10 or more attempts where his shooting percentage was below 30 percent. The only player to do that more often in a single playoff season is Hedo Turkoglu with eight for Orlando in 2009.

Toronto's Game 2 loss marked the first time since March 23 and 25 that the Raptors had lost back-to-back games. The team hasn't lost three straight since November 15-18, which is its longest losing streak of the 2015-16 season. The Cavs are 10-0 SU and 7-3 ATS this postseason but it’s hard to gage whether the Cavs are a juggernaut or just ‘sailing’ past a VERY weak group of Eastern Conference foes. Stay tuned. Cleveland is favored by 5 1/2 points in tonight’s Game 3.

Sunday’s journal available by 12 noon ET.

Good luck...Larry

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