Conversely, a couple of strong showings against the teams they should be measuring themselves up against, maybe a pair of big late-season wins, could give them the edge they need.
Lowry shot 2-for-11 in a tough 112-106 loss the the Cavs, registering five-points, three assists and three turnovers.
Teams will dare the small forward to shoot regardless of who it is and if Miles isn't sinking them anyway, the other two are far better bets because they bring more to the table all-around. The Raptors are first in the East, 8.5 games ahead of the third place Cavs.
"I thought (Calderon) did a pretty good job on Lowry", Cavs acting coach Larry Drew said after the game (ESPN). "I mean, I think so". Listen, we lost our starting point guard last game, so we're trying to get everybody acclimated. I got back in time. "We have not been all year". Now we got Reggie back and Blake's out, we're back to it.
"Regardless of the situation, you want guys ready for the playoffs", Horford said after the game Wednesday.
We have seen success on the road before from James and the Cavaliers in the playoffs.
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The Cavaliers' second win over the Raptors in the last two weeks allowed them to maintain a half-game lead over the 76ers in the Eastern Conference and at least a one-game edge over the Pacers, who had a late-night matchup at the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night.
The Raptors have now dropped nine of their last 10 games in Cleveland, playoffs included, and you can bet they're aware of it.
They might end up looking like they did at the start, with center Andre Drummond and point guard Reggie Jackson as the 1-2 tandem.
Kyle Lowry is taking a lot of flack for attending Villanova's win over MI on Monday night ahead of the biggest back-to-back of the season and while I don't really agree with it, he invited the "controversy" by laying a complete egg in a huge game. It helped the Raps destroy James and a roster that would be absolutely deconstructed within a month and a half back in January. Even as they've pared back the minutes of stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, the Raptors have played full-throttle all season, and that's hard to maintain as the finish line nears and you've still got the top seed in hand. But after letting his young teammates get their feet wet in round one, James and the Cavs could be rolling come round two. He pounded his chest and screamed as he walked near Toronto's bench and coach Dwane Casey, who has seen the three-time champion make that kind of play so many times before.
If you thought the Raps were going to come into Boston and steamroll the Celtics like they did at the Air Canada Centre in February you weren't giving Stevens enough credit.
They still need to be better against the Cavs, who have eliminated them from the past two playoffs. It was James who dominated for the Cavs, especially in the second half, finishing with 35 points and 17 assists, a combination never before seen in the National Basketball Association. The Celtics trimmed three games off their deficit during a six-game winning streak that was snapped Tuesday, and would clinch the head-to-head tiebreaker with a win Wednesday. The last time these teams met, March 21st 2018, Cleveland Cavaliers beat 132-129 (James: 35 points, 17 assists, 0 turnovers).