Valanciunas scored 19 points (8-10 FG, 3-4 FT) while adding eight rebounds across 33 minutes in Friday's 115-94 loss to the Cavaliers in Game 3.
Valanciunas was back in the starting lineup and ended up being the second-highest scorer on the team. Without Kyle Lowry (ankle), the team needed more offensive options besides DeMar DeRozan, and Valanciunas supplied that, shooting 80 percent from the floor on the game. It remains to be seen if Valanciunas will draw another start in Game 4, but he saw an increase in minutes Friday night over his postseason average (20.9 minutes per game).
Valanciunas will draw the start at center for Friday's Game 3 against the Cavaliers.
Valanciunas will replace Patrick Patterson in the starting five and play next to Serge Ibaka. It's unclear whether him getting the starting nod will represent a minutes increase, as it could be tied to Kyle Lowry (ankle) coming off the bench. He's averaging 10.6 points and 6.8 rebounds across 20.9 minutes per game in the postseason.
Valanciunas produced 23 points (10-13 FG, 3-5 FT) and five rebounds across 20 minutes during a 125-103 loss to the Cavaliers on Wednesday.
After being moved to the bench in Game 2, Valanciunas responded with a team-high 23 points in the blowout loss. It was by far his best game of the playoffs so far, so coach Dwane Casey may decide to rely on him a bit more in Game 3 with the team in desperate need of a spark.
Valanciunas will return to the bench for Wednesday's Game 2 against the Cavaliers, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star reports.
After coming off the bench for the final three games of the first round of the playoffs, the Raptors opted to push Valanciunas back into the top unit at center in Game 1 of the semifinals against the Cavaliers. However, Valanciunas struggled to get anything going and after the Raptors were defeated with ease, coach Dwane Casey will switch up his lineup yet again. That means Serge Ibaka is expected to shift over to center, with Valanciunas heading to the bench. Valanciunas hasn't seen more than 24 minutes yet this postseason and with his demotion to the second unit, he may hover around the 20-minute mark, which restricts his value.
Valanciunas recorded six points (3-7 FG), six rebounds, and one block in 21 minutes during Monday's 116-105 loss to the Cavaliers in Game 1.
Valanciunas returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench for the three-game winning streak to finish the first round. He has yet to see more than 24 minutes in any of these first seven playoff games, and the Cavaliers seemed to get whatever they wanted offensively while Valanciunas was on the floor. Furthermore, he saw just seven minutes in the second half, and Norman Powell, P.J. Tucker, and Patrick Patterson will likely continue to steal minutes from Valanciunas if the Raptors decide to play smaller and faster units like they did against the Bucks.
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