1) Will the sun set on Portland in the West Wednesday? Draymond Green is right, the Trail Blazers are done. Sorry Blazers fans. You have a fun, scrappy, underappreciated team that had an incredible season, one they can build on going forward. But this one is done. The only question is can they stay alive for one more game. Probably not. Stephen Curry is back, and the Warriors offense just went from good to “holy heart failure Batman” levels. Also, the Warriors will defend better at home, while the Blazers role players have struggled more away from the Moda Center. Closeout games are hard, Damian Lillard has been fantastic (if not always efficient), but the Warriors have been closing out teams for a couple of seasons now and they will do it again tonight.
2) Is Bismack Biyombo the answer to the Heat’s small ball lineup? Miami found a small ball lineup that works for them, the lineup of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, Justice Winslow, and Luol Deng — that lineup was +14, shot better than 50 percent, and was out there for the entire successful overtime for the Heat in Game 4. The Raptors will see a lot of it in Game 5, how do they counter it?
A lot of Biyombo. The Raptors three best lineups last game all had the big center at the heart of it, protecting the rim and slowing down the penetration of Dragic, Wade and the rest of the Heat. The Raptors can afford to play him against the Heat’s preferred small ball lineup because they can put Biyombo on Winslow, which allows Biyombo to stay near the basket (the Raptors will let the rookie shoot open jumpers all night long). This is still a series of lineup experimentation since both big men are out, but the Raptors need to find a successful experiment tonight.
3) Kyle Lowry must show up again with another big game. After a 33 point Game 3 effort which gave Raptors fans hope, the All-Star point guard was 2-of-11 shooting overall and 0-of-6 from three in Game 4. The Raptors need production from the guard spots. I’ve pretty much given up on DeMar DeRozan turning it around and having a good playoff game, but Lowry has shown he has these kinds of games in him still. With the Raptors season now in the balance, they need the All-Star, confident Lowry from the first half of the regular season, the one who could knock down threes and fearlessly drove the lane. The guy who racked up points and assists. This is something we’ve said from the series preview and heading into Game 5 it remains at the heart of this series — Toronto needs Lowry to be the best player on the court to win. Can he find that groove again?