-- CLEVELAND -- In a playoff series, standard buzz words emerge after almost every game.
The winning team was always "more aggressive" and the losing team always needs to be "more aggressive" in the next game.
Winning at home is just "holding serve" and the "series doesn't start until a team wins on the road."
And when one team finds momentum, there's an assumption it has "figured out" the opposition.
There are typically kernels of reality in all those pearls even if they become tiresome. In the Eastern Conference finals, there is an element of truth after the Toronto Raptors rallied for victories in Games 3 and 4 to even the series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Raptors currently have the upper hand in the adjustment battle. Their broad defensive change, to focus more on protecting the paint and give up 3-pointers, has worked. Their broad offensive change, which has been to attack Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love as much as possible with their dynamic backcourt, has worked.
Does this mean the underdogs have the Cavs "figured out?" That's a little too presumptive and over-reactionary at this point. What is certain is the Raptors have found a comfort level in facing the Cavs now four games into the series and that is something to pay attention to.
"I think we have gotten a little bit more familiar with what they're trying to do and giving us a little bit more confidence," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "It's given us a feel of what they're trying to do to us defensively."
The Raptors have been behind several times in the postseason, having to go to seven games to win the previous two rounds. They've gotten used to searching for game plans that work and dealing with setbacks and moving on from them. For example, after a few uneven games in the last series, the Raptors found some traction and got the three most prolific combined scoring games from DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry in their four seasons together to finish off the Heat.
After admitting they were embarrassed in the first two games against the Cavs, Casey's adjustments helped Lowry and DeRozan produce 67 combined points in Game 4. It was their highest-scoring game together.
"I think we're four games deep into learning, and vice versa," Lowry said. "I'm sure they've figured out some things that we've done, and we've figured out some things that they've done. But it's a match. We've got to figure it out. You've got to tweak things. You've got to see things. You've got to watch the film and see where you can get better at, see where you can get an open shot at, see the things that we are executing, but also see the things that we are executing and making sure that we keep continuing to do that."
These games-within-games are the fabric of the NBA playoffs. Whether anyone has anyone else "figured out" is only as relevant as the most recent counterpunch. It's on the Cavs at this point, though, to do their own figuring out.
"I don't think [the Raptors are] more dangerous," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "I think we had the same momentum. We won two games and we went up there and they flipped the script on us. And they played well at home."
The Cavs have taken 78 3-pointers over the past two games and made only 32 percent, a central reason as to why they failed to crack 100 points in back-to-back games for the first time in more than two months. While that is certainly an issue -- both the volume and the percentage -- with the Raptors' defensive changes forcing it, the defense has been where the Cavs are looking to "figure out" Toronto.
The Raptors shot 54 percent in Game 4 and both Lowry and DeRozan made more than 60 percent of their looks. While the Cavs scored on the first 12 possessions of the fourth quarter and put up 30 points in the final 12 minutes, they barely made up ground.
As the vital Game 5 arrives, it is on this end where the Cavs are looking to re-establish control. Especially after Lowry and DeRozan have picked up momentum from the weekend at home.
"It's taking the one-on-one challenge," Lue said. "I think DeRozan and Lowry really took it upon themselves to get their team back on track, and we have to take that one-on-one challenge and be better with those two guys."