AP Writer: Difficult To See Raptors Hold Their Own Against Cavs

Kyle Lowry had a pretty rough series against Miami – at least for the first few games. In fact, he averaged 17 points and shot just 23-of-65 (35.4 percent) from the floor through the first four games of the series. If you remove his 33-point Game 3 performance, those numbers dip to 11.7 points per game and 12-of-46 (26.1 percent) shooting.

All of which is to say he was pretty terrible.

“Yeah, the scoring was certainly the big thing,” Associated Press sportswriter Ian Harrison said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I think, to be fair to Kyle Lowry, those other elements of his game, by and large, have been there throughout the playoffs. He had high assist games, he had been chipping in with the rebounds – certainly I don’t think anyone was accusing him of not trying hard, not going after those loose balls, whatever it might be. But the shot clearly was not falling for him – so much so that there were a lot of examples where he would get open looks and pass the ball up. He was obviously really reluctant to shoot.”

Lowry scored just seven points in 43 minutes in Toronto’s 102-96 overtime loss in Game 1. He shot 1-of-7 from three-point range. The one three he made was a half-court heave to send the game to overtime.

The Raptors lost anyway.

After the game, Lowry shot alone at the Air Canada Centre well after midnight.

“The only people left in the building were people picking up garbage from underneath the seats, and Lowry is there with his hoody on and his headphones on shooting on the main court for a while,” Harrison said. “There was nobody even rebounding for him, which I thought was a little odd and looking a little sad and lonely. But from Game 5 on, he and (DeMar) DeRozan both certainly seemed to get more and more comfortable with their shooting.”

Lowry scored 36 points in a Game 6 loss before playing his best all-around game of the series in a do-or-die Game 7. He finished with 35 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals. He shot 11-of-20 from the floor and 5-of-7 from three. DeRozan added 28 points of his own.

Toronto survived.

“That was such a big plus for the Raptors in Game 7 against Miami,” Harrison said. “It’s hard to sort of say with any certainty whether that will carry over in the Cleveland series, but certainly Raptors fans are hoping their two All-Stars continue to shoot the ball well.”

Even if Lowry and DeRozan play well, many people give Toronto little chance of knocking off Cleveland – or even making the Cavs sweat a little.

“I think in Toronto the faithful here are trying to find a different narrative,” Harrison said. “I think there is some belief here.”

The Raptors went 2-1 against Cleveland this season, winning a pair of home games by a combined six points and losing at Cleveland in January by 22. Lowry scored a combined 70 points in Toronto’s two wins over the Cavs.

Still, can the Raptors actually beat the Cavs in a seven-game series? The locals say yes. Harrison cited a local online poll in which the most popular prediction had the Raptors winning in seven.

“I must confess that I thought the Raptors could lose in six to Miami, so I think I’m going to rule myself out of the prediction game,” Harrison said. “Nevertheless, it is difficult to see a scenario in which the Raptors, especially the Raptors without Jonas Valanciunas starting and healthy, can really hold their own in a seven-game series against this Cleveland team that has just run roughshod over every opponent it has seen in the playoffs.”

Game 1 is Tuesday in Cleveland at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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