Toronto Raptors 133, Cleveland Cavaliers 99 : Raptors dominate Cavs

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 11: Kevin Love
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 11: Kevin Love /

Despite both Kyle Lowry & Serge Ibaka missing from the lineup, the Toronto Raptors dominated the Cleveland Cavaliers from start to finish.

Prior to the game, Thursday’s contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers figured to be a difficult one for the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors were missing two of their best players, and were facing a well rested Cavaliers team, who figured to be motivated, following a blow-out loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Despite the obstacles facing the Raptors, the team controlled the game from start to finish. Cleveland never led, and, thanks in large part to a 35-point third quarter, the Raptors took a commanding 25 point lead into half.

The game never was in jeopardy after that point. According to, the Raptors win probability never dropped below 99% in the second half and both team’s starting units were pulled by the fourth quarter.

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Perhaps the most impressive part of the Toronto victory was their ability to win with a sub-par performance from DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan managed just 13 points on below 40-percent shooting, although he was able to set up teammates dishing 8 dimes without a turnover.

With Lowry and Ibaka out, DeRozan playing below his typical standard of excellence, Toronto needed a punch. Luckily for the Raptors, the bench unit provided just that. Four bench players produced double-digit scoring nights, with Fred VanVleet‘s 22 points leading the team.

The two greatest factors in the Toronto victory were the Raptors advantages both cleaning the glass and shooting from beyond the arc.

Cleveland, typically one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league, was a putrid 6-of-26  (23.1-percent) ,from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, despite missing two of their top three-point shooters, the Raptors hit 18-of-42 (42.9-percent). With the 29th ranked defense, if Cleveland is not hitting from beyond the arc things tend to go poorly.

Off-shooting nights happen. Perhaps part of the stark shooting difference between the Cavs and Raptors can be attributed to luck that fluctuates on any given night. What can not be attributed to luck is the Raptors commanding advantage on the glass.

The Raptors out-rebounded the Cavaliers 63-to-35. Nearly doubling your opponents rebounds is impressive in any particular game, when you consider the Raptors played “small-ball” with OG Anunoby at power forward, it becomes even more notable.

Critics will claim the game was meaningless and that Cleveland’s effort wanes from night-to-night. That’s true and Cleveland likely won’t consider Toronto a real threat until they provide a post-season scare.

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But with Ibaka and Lowry out it would have been easy for the Raptors to mail Thursday’s performance in. They didn’t. They fought and won an important game that may have a huge impact on seeding during playoff time. .