TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors talked about playing for pride as they try to stave off elimination, while the Cleveland Cavaliers know they only need to continue playing their game, which has given them a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The Raptors must win Sunday at the Air Canada Centre if they are to extend the best-of-seven series and they do not want to end their season losing on home court.
The task could be that much tougher because point guard Kyle Lowry said Saturday he it is doubtful that he will be able to play Sunday because of a sprained left ankle.
“I’m probably doubtful,” Lowry said. “Hopefully something changes but right now I don’t think I will be able to play.”
Lowry, an All-Star, suffered the injury early in the second half of Game 2. He wanted to try playing in Game 3 Friday but finally give up the effort and heeded the advice of the medical staff.
Lowry was listed as active for the 115-94 Cleveland victory, but never left the bench. He admitted Saturday that the efforts he made before Friday’s game to try to play probably aggravated the injury and the soreness was more severe.
DeMar DeRozan, who scored a career playoff-best 37 points Friday, said the Raptors have handled adversity before.
“We pride ourselves all year off things like that, being down, being resilient, giving everything we’ve got and just fight,” DeRozan said Saturday. “We have an opportunity to be able to exploit that (Sunday) and we’re going to have do it from all angles.”
The Cavaliers, who won their first 10 playoff games last year and eventually won the NBA championship, are 7-0 so far in the postseason this year.
LeBron James, who scored 35 points to lead the Cavaliers on Friday, said he puts no emphasis on ending the series in four games.
“The only thing that is important is coming out and playing our game,” he said. “Our coaching staff once again will give us a game plan and it is up to us to go execute.
“It is a quick turnaround, early game on Sunday. We do not need to be thinking about a sweep or getting rest. We need to be thinking about what we need to do to execute defensively and offensively coming into Sunday.”
Kevin Love, who scored 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds on Friday, was asked if this year’s team is better than the one last year.
“We just want the effort to consistent and continue to play inspired basketball and put together 48 really good minutes of basketball,” Love said. “We had some tough plays, turnovers (Friday) and, as I mentioned, they play well here at home, they really fight.
“It’s a great crowd, but we felt like we handled it well, especially being down three at the half and came back, fought, got the lead in the fourth and never really looked back. … The effort was there (Friday).
“It’s not easy to win a Game 3 on the road or three in a row in a playoff series.”
The Raptors were 2-for-18 on 3-point shots on Friday, missing their first 12 of the game.
DeRozan, who was 12-for-23 from the field and 13-for-13 on free throws, did not take a shot from 3-point range.
“I thought we did an excellent job of moving the basketball, finding the right person,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “But again, it’s something we’ve done, knocking down 3s all year and, for whatever reason, it’s escaping us right now.
” … At one point, we were one of the better offensive teams in the league, depending on the 3s, knocking down the 3, and now we have to transfer it from regular-season basketball to playoff basketball.”
The Cavaliers, who were 13-for-23 in 3-point shots, also had the advantage in rebounds over the Raptors, 49-25.
“With our rebounding with Tristan (Thompson) and Kevin (Love), if they play small then we have opportunities to pound them on the glass,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s just the way we play. Those two guys together, it’s a tough duo and you add LeBron to the mix when they play small on him.
“If we’re getting stops, of course, we’re going to defensive rebound. All around it was a good game for rebounding the basketball offensively and defensively, so we just have to continue to keep that up and come here on Sunday. They are going to play even better than they did (Friday) to start the game and we just have to be ready for it.”