Jonas Valanciunas out for Game 1, doubtful for Game 2 of Cavaliers-Raptors series

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Jonas Valanciunas missed the final four games of the Raptors win over the Heat with a sprained right ankle.

The injury won’t heal in time for Game 1 of the Raptors-Cavaliers series tomorrow.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said center Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) s out for Game 1 of the conference finals against Cavs and doubtful for Game 2. He hasn’t started basketball activities yet and there’s still no timetable for his return.

This is a big, though expected, loss for Toronto. The Raptors were outscored by 21 points without Valanciunas against Miami – and that was with Heat center Hassan Whiteside also sidelined for most of the series.

Bismack Biyombo stepped up admirably in Valanciunas’ absence, but Biyombo can’t play the full game, and his offensive limitations are, well, limiting. When Patrick Patterson slides to center, he will have his work cut out for him keeping Tristan Thompson off the glass.

This will also make it easier for the Cavs to play Kevin Love and Channing Frye as their bigs, what has been a lethal combination in the playoffs. Cleveland can take advantage of their outside shooting without worrying as much about being exposed defensively. The Raptors can counter by playing smaller, but that just plays into the Cavaliers’ preferred style.

The Cavs were going to be favored to win this series, regardless. Valanciunas’ absence just makes it easier for them to dictate the pace.