Level going in at two games a piece, Toronto might have expected Valanciunas’ return last night to boost their chances of taking a decisive lead in the series but the Cavaliers led by LeBron James and Kevin Love blew them out 116-78.
The Raptors decisively lost the battle of the boards, with Valanciunas not grabbing a single rebound in his 18 minutes on court and fellow center Bismarck Biyombo taking just four rebounds all game after grabbing 40 rebounds in the Raptors last two games.
In front of a home crowd of over 20,000, the Cavaliers opened up a 34-point lead in the first half, and pushed it to 43 in the second half.
After losing the last two games in Toronto, Cleveland took a 3-2 series lead with Kevin Love scoring 25 points and LeBron chipping in 23 before sitting out the fourth quarter.
Back from eight straight games out with a sprained ankle, the one positive was a healthy Valanciunas contributing nine points but Toronto’s all-star guards, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozen were smothered by an aggressive Cavaliers defence. DeRozen was the Raptor’s highest scorer but hit just 14 points with Lowry adding a meagre 13.
“They kicked our butts, bottom line,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey.
The crucial game 6 is tomorrow night (Friday) in Toronto and the Raptors will be hoping to continue their strong home form to level the series.