DeRozan went just 3-of-12 shooting and scored a postseason-low eight points as the Cavs attacked him with double teams to force him to give up the ball. Cavs coach Ty Lue said a primary facet in the team’s game plan was to try to limit DeRozan and instead give more space to Kyle Lowry, who scored 27 points.
The Raptors were down 16 points when coach Dwane Casey benched DeRozan. Toronto slowly made a comeback with the different lineup, eventually tying the game with eight seconds to play before LeBron James hit a game winner at the buzzer.
“It’s extremely hard, extremely hard,” DeRozan said. “I just want to be out there helping my team, way more than anything. It definitely sucks to be watching … we’ve got to give credit to those guys. We fought hard and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
Casey did not discuss his decision with DeRozan on the bench or after the game. The coach did hint his choice wasn’t just about DeRozan’s poor shooting. He was a team-worst -23 on the night.
“Even when you are not shooting well you can defend and do things to help us win, but those nights are going to happen,” Casey said. “He had a tough night. He wasn’t the reason we lost. We are professionals, he’s a pro. He has had tough games before he’ll bounce back. But we have one more game, our pride is on the line, basically our season is on the line, but I think he’ll bounce back.”
DeRozan had been the Raptors’ leading postseason scorer coming into the game, averaging 27.8 points.
“In the moment, it definitely sucks, especially on top of us losing. You never want to have a s—ty game like I had,” DeRozan said. “I’ve got another game, got another opportunity. That’s all that matters.”