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There is zero chance Toronto can beat Cleveland this series. In all honesty I expect tonight's game to be the end of it all, but maybe the Raptors can pull one out of thin air and make it an overall respectable series loss instead of a sweep. No matter when Toronto gets sent packing, it's obvious that their window has been shut, decisively might I add, by LeBron James. This season marks the third year where “The North” was suppose to challenge the Cavaliers for Eastern Conference dominance. Yet here we are with LeBron making Toronto look like a lottery bound team. Despite this entire season being not only a culture change for the Raptors, but also a real offensive/defensive overhaul, it's obvious that a true rebuild has to begin.
Dwane Casey had a brilliant regular season and looked pretty good in the Washington series. Yet looking at his calls, substitutions, and line ups against Cleveland shows he's in way over his head. Toronto came into each game putting out lineups that they've had success with all season, but the minute Cleveland reacts and the game starts to turn in their favor, Casey seems to shut down entirely. Dwane's inability to react to the Cavaliers adjustments have doomed Toronto over and over again. There have been moments when Toronto has thrown out super small line ups to match up with a big line up from Cleveland or times where there have been big's guarding perimeter players. The irony is that Dwane Casey may even win Coach of the Year as he's been a huge reason to Toronto's regular season success this year, but in this series he's become Lue's punching bag.
For those who didn't watch Game 3, DeMar DeRozan got a front court seat of it as he rode the bench for a good portion of the game. In the 28 minutes DeRozan played that game, he shot a horrible 3 for 12 and was a -23 before he was put in the dog house. Toronto did make a solid come back in the minutes DeMar sat but when the game became close, he still continued to sit. If your All Star guard and the best offensive player you have isn't the guy you have on the court, no matter how horrible he's played that night with the game on the line, there are some serious issues to be ironed out. DeMar can't get it done apparently and needs a wake up call, a new coach, or dare I say a new team.
If Toronto was to throw out their ideas of beating LeBron James and rebuild, they'd have some serious issues. The Raptors cap situation for next year is ugly with $126 million already tied up. Their All Star backcourt is eating up $58 million alone while guys like Ibaka, who has disappeared this postseason, and Valanciunas are on the books for another $37 million combined. Toronto is due to lose budding hometown hero Fred VanVleet as he's a free agent this offseason and he's going to cash in on his 15 minutes of fame. Going into 2018-2019 it'll be the same Raptors squad as it is now and even if LeBron is another year older, he's shown Father Time hasn't caught him yet.
No matter what happens this offseason, it's clear this Toronto squad just can't get over the hump that is Lebron James. It'd be insane for them to come back next season with the same team and coach. Toronto needs to take a long hard look at themselves in a mirror and make some changes if they ever want to be a postseason team as well as a regular season one.