TORONTO â€” The morning after one of the worst losses of his NBA career, DeMar DeRozan couldn’t wait to face Cleveland again.
The Raptors’ leading scorer had just five points in Toronto’s 125-103 blowout loss to the Cavaliers on Wednesday, and he still wore the frustration from his puzzling performance after Thursday’s practice at Biosteel Centre.
“The thing that sucks the most is the idle time (between games),” DeRozan said. “That’s the most frustrating part is just trying to keep the patience, and play and just get this feeling off us. That’s the crappiest part about it. Just can’t wait to get out there to redeem yourself.”
Does he wish they’d played again Thursday?
“Yes, that would have been helpful,” DeRozan said.
DeRozan went without a field goal in a blowout loss to Milwaukee in the opening round, but bounced back with a vengeance, scoring 32 points in the series-clinching Game 6.
But he’s had five career playoff games with fewer than 10 points in his career, and the Raptors have lost all five.
Social media hasn’t been kind to DeRozan and the Raptors this week. It’s reminiscent, he said, of last season’s Eastern Conference finals when the Raptors were routed in the first two games to Cleveland and were all but written off before rebounding to win two games at home.
“Just to have that feeling again, people counting you out, whatever negative comes with losing, being down two games, that definitely sucks and it’s something that we’re gonna have to use tomorrow night,” DeRozan said.
He tries to tune out the negative noise.
“For sure. But you can’t turn on the TV or look on nothing socially without seeing all the criticism or questioning this or whatever somebody may think,” DeRozan said. “At the end of the day, we’re all human, everybody see things and may get text messages, whatever comes with it, it’s part of the game. But like I said, it’s all a matter of how we respond to it, the good and the bad.”
Wednesday’s loss was Toronto’s fifth straight post-season rout in Cleveland. They’ve lost by an average of 24.2 points.
DeRozan said the Raptors’ horrible performance in both games was much tougher to stomach than the fact they’re down 2-0 in the series.
“At least give ourselves a chance to be in the game,” DeRozan said. “If we win we win, if we lose we lose and we understand what we’ve got to do if it’s a close game, going down the stretch. But losing that way, it’s definitely deflating.”
While they’re happy to be back home, there was more bad news for Toronto on Thursday. Kyle Lowry didn’t practise due to his sprained left ankle, and is questionable for Game 3.
When DeRozan saw his backcourt mate go down early in the third quarter on Wednesday, with the game already getting away from them, he thought: “Couldn’t get no worse.”
“How things were going, see him down there, just hoping for the best. . . Just sucks to see anybody go down, no matter who it was,” DeRozan said. When it rains it pours at this point. Now to deal with whatever it is that’s bothering him is going to be another issue.”
With almost two days of negative noise before the Raptors get back on the court coach Dwane Casey instructed his team to ignore it.
“I told them this morning, it’s about the 15 men in this room,” Casey said. “Don’t listen the noise, the noise is going to be there good and bad. When you win everybody is blowing smoke and when it’s bad everybody is blowing smoke.
“You’ve got to make sure that you understand what the moment is, what we need to do defensively and offensively and it’s concerning only about the 15 people in the room. We’re coming home, let’s take care of home. We’ve been in this situation before. We’ve got to go out and physically and mentally do it.”
The Cavs routed Toronto by a combined 50 points in Games 1 and 2 in last season’s conference finals. The Raptors replied by winning Game 3 99-84 and Game 4 105-99. The Cavs went on to clinch the series in six games en route to winning the NBA championship.
Game 4 is Sunday at the Air Canada Centre. A Game 5, if needed, would be Tuesday in Cleveland.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press