In a game that any fan of offense would love, the Toronto Raptors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers, blowing a lead 15-point second-half lead.
If the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers play seven more games like this, fans certainly will get their share of excitement. Wednesday’s contest was a back-and-forth battle with both teams filling up the scoreboard and knocking down shots at an alarming rate. Toronto shot 54-percent from the field and 44-percent from deep, meanwhile Cleveland hit greater than 60-percent of shots from the field AND from three.
If you are a stickler for defense, then you probably turned the game off after the first quarter. After quarter number one, the Cavaliers led the Raptors 42-38. The Raptors made six three-pointers, shot above 60-percent from the field and still were they second most powerful offense on the court.
During the second period the Raptors made their run. LeBron sat for almost half the quarter, and even when he played, he recorded a +/- of -14. Due to a rash of injuries, the Cavaliers were forced to play deep into their bench and even played John Holland for a good amount of the second quarter.
At about the half way mark in the third quarter, the momentum started to swing. LeBron James sprayed passes all over the court, and the Cavaliers starting backcourt shot a perfect 6-6 from the field.
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As the lead shrunk, you could almost feel the tightness in the Raptors players. The volume inside quicken loans increased at each defensive stop, while the Raptors couldn’t seem to get on solid defensive possession when it mattered most. Finally, with 27 seconds remaining and the Cavaliers up one, Lebron kicked the ball to Kevin Love in the corner and he hit a dagger three, increasing the lead to two scores.
Matchups & Individual Performances
With Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson both missing time due to injury, the Cavaliers frontcourt featured Love at the center for the majority of the game. This gave Jonas Valanciunas fits all night. In our Raptors playoff preview, we mentioned that staying on the court would be difficult for JV when the Cavaliers downsized. Wednesday night that was certainly the case.
With Love playing center, the Cavaliers featured a 5-out offense that relied on a heavy amount of LeBron James pick-and-roll. This worked essentially all night, with LeBron routinely collapsing the defense and kicking out to a bevy of shooters who knocked down baskets at an impressive rate. On the night as a whole, Lebron James managed 17 assists without turning the ball over once.
The Raptors relied on a balanced-scoring night from all of their weapons. However, if one player did stand out it was certainly Kyle Lowry. Lowry scored 24-points, dished seven assists, and was able to hit 6-9 shots from long-range.
For the Raptors it was the second game of a road back-to-back and their third game in four nights. Meanwhile, the Cavs were missing three key-rotation pieces and were forced to play G-League talent in spot minutes. Still, this game felt important and certainly more intense than a typical regular season game. Consider this game not a sign the Cavaliers are going to beat the Raptors, but certainly a sign they are not a team to be taken lightly.