Cleveland was bound to lose a game en route to making their second straight NBA finals appearance. They had won 10 straight playoff games dating back to their dismantling of the eighth-seeded Charlotte Hornets. Atlanta was the next team to feel the wrath of the broom goons, and Toronto looked completely outclassed and overmatched in the first two games of this Eastern Conference finals.
However, Bismack Biyombo's Dikembe Mutombo finger wag said it all in Game 3 as Toronto’s 99-84 win over Cleveland on Saturday night snapped the Cavs 17-game win streak in Eastern Conference Games, ensuring that there would be "No, No, No sweep!"
The ESPN TV team described it as the “Biggest moment in (Raptors) franchise history.” DeMar DeRozan played like the missing All-Star from that milk carton Raptors fans had been circulating. He scored 32 points and finally got some shots to fall.
Toronto coach Dwane Casey told everyone during the week that his team hadn’t quit, and there’s no better confirmation for a city that their head coach is the goods than an impressive, must-win at home in your first Conference Finals.
Toronto came out rolling. Kyle Lowry added 20 to the mix and was finally on fire to begin a game as he shot over 50 percent from the floor and from trey city. Even when Cleveland cut into the lead, Toronto didn’t crumble. They fought off a 16-2 second quarter run and mustered another run later in the game and showed tremendous heart.
In Games 1 and 2, Toronto had a rebound margin of -11. In Game 3, Bismack Biyombo was on his Dennis Rodman swag and finished with a whopping 26 rebounds. He beasted Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love or anybody else who dared to attempt a board.
It’s hard to stay undefeated in the NBA Playoffs and Toronto definitely looked like the squad that was desperate for a “W.” Cleveland helped them out by totally moving away from its dominant inside offensive game and settling for threes that wouldn’t fall all night.
If Golden State or OKC was watching, that’s the Cleveland team they hope shows up to the NBA Finals. Unfairly and prematurely, most pundits were leery to give Toronto a game in this series.
ESPN’s Stephen A Smith was one of them.
“I didn't see it coming…,” Smith said on TV after the game. “After one game I thought a sweep was imminent... DeRozan was unstoppable…”
Beyond DeRozan showing up, LeBron James abandoned his dominant soul in the hole game and also gave us one the worst flops and acting jobs of his career after being elbowed by his own player. And it almost worked, but not quite.
It was that kind of night. Love’s listless body double hit just 1-of-9 field goal attempts and Kyrie Irving stunk it up, missing 16 shots (3-19) from the field.
This game was all positive for Toronto and really didn’t mean much for Cleveland. Odds are, they would lose at least one game on the road to the NBA finals. It happened to be this one.
It’s not likely that Irving and Love will shoot that dismally again and expect the Cavs to have an answer for Biyombo on the boards moving forward. Not much changes in this series other than the fact that it will not be a sweep and the red and white T-shirt wearing Toronto fans get to scream ''We The North'' on Monday night at Air Canada Centre in a pivotal Game 4.