Game Recap: Cavaliers 82, Raptors 91

Was it just me, or did it feel like the crowd was just really quiet at the beginning of the game? It was like the freezing cold, no Lebron, and no Bosh sucked the life out of our Raptors crowd. In any case, it’s been less than a week but it’ll be interesting to see if the Raptors learned something from playing this Cavs team the first time. Last year, they really showed us and everyone in the league that while we might get smacked around the first time we meet, the second time, the Raptors would come back with a vengeance.

However, in this case, it was a matter of “who can take care of business without their star player?” It should be no question really. The Raptors built their team by finding players that they can put together to make a strong team from 1 though 15. It should also be noted that while the Raptors and Cavs both lost their star players, the Raptors still had their 2nd option (Bargnani) while the Cavs were still missing theirs (Larry Hughes). Just by looking at those things alone, it should add up to a relatively easy win. However, the biggest difference to be between the Raptors now and their last meeting is the return of Rasho Nesterovic. The last game saw Ilgauskas exploit the Raptors within the paint, taking apart the Raptors rebounders and scoring all around the rim. As much as I like Bargnani’s game, he just doesn’t have the power to defend the stockier centers. It’s why Rasho is just that important to our team, as he’s our answer to guys like Ilgauskas and Dwight Howard. Definitely worth is 7 million dollar contract.

But speaking of our favourite Italian, Bargnani managed to fill in quite well for the injured Bosh. He tried to play in the post and he managed to light it up a few times from the 3 point line. Giving us his first 20 point game since the beginning of the season (also when Bosh was out), and hitting a career high (yet again when Bosh was out), Bargs even managed to draw a few fouls on the Cavs. I’m still of the opinion that if he could figure out how to use his pump fake to go into the body of the defender, he could shoot many more free throws, and make a lot more old fashioned three point plays. However, that’s perhaps something that will have to be left until next year. In addition to Bargnani, Delfino gave us a very beautiful game. He mixed up his game and still managed to draw a few fouls, while playing some intense defense on a guy who was not LeBron James.

Nevertheless, the Raptors almost gave it all away. In the third and fourth, they managed to extend their lead to 20 pts thanks to some stellar play from Jamario Moon and Jose Calderon. Almost on queue, Chuck brought out the Salami and Cheese and the Cavs started making some shots beyond the 3 point arc. Sasha Pavlovic and Daniel Gibson were left open as the Raptors began to hit a cold spell on the offensive end. It was here that the Raptors had me extremely worried. We’ve seen this team get stone cold at the beginning of the year. In fact, they managed to give away some games due to cold shooting, so it was extremely concerning that the Raptors refused to start drawing fouls. Rather, there wasn’t anyone else to draw them as Bosh was on the bench. I think it’s important that this club begins to figure out that there will be times, maybe even whole games, where people just won’t be shooting well. So how can we fight off those moments, especially with Bosh out? Because in those times, the Raptors will see their opponents double up on Bosh and dare their shooters to shoot. Unfortunately, it’s not something that can be solved with one player taking more foul shots (though it’d be a start) but it’s gotta be a team mentality to try and get to the line more. On a shooting team like this, it doesn’t mean that they have to get into the paint, but use a pump fake to draw it on the player by going into their body on the shot, Reggie Miller-style.

So here’s hoping the Raptors can keep it up against a very banged up Wizards team. Both teams are playing back-to-backs, but the Raptors should have the advantage of depth. It’s three games in a row now, but the Raptors have ample opportunity to keep this streak going for the next while until Bosh comes back.

Next Game: Toronto @ Washington

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12 thoughts on “Game Recap: Cavaliers 82, Raptors 91

  1. Kinnon,

    I agree, this was a good win, but besides the Salami and Cheese quality win jinx, Cavs chipped our lead in from 21 to 10 in 2 mins. That’s not good especially when they put in Eric “San Antonio-is-not-as-boring-as-I-am” Snow at the same time. They need more focus on their defence and simple offence execution and not give away 2-3 min spans back to teams in 4th quarters (a la GS game in ACC = a turn around season game for GS i think). Plus fans should have gotten their 100+ pizza but the Raptors didn’t seem to care. Furthermore, that Jamario !dunk! should just count for the fans, no matter if he took an extra step.

    PS. Cavs coach Mike Brown’s grimacing smile face ranks top 5 “I wanna punch that face” List since he showed up in the finals. If Cavs wanna go forward, change the coach 1st.

  2. Anthony – Yeah. I agree. Too many times this year, it’s felt as though we can’t keep our big leads. It’s why games like that Memphis game are a good indication because the Raptors just kept tightening the screws for most of the game. I think the Jamario block earlier on Pavlovic was much more impressive actually. There’s not many guys in the league that can block that directly like Jamario did.

    Haha. Well, I still think Mike Brown is a fine coach, but his team is just not well constructed. We all know that a PG is an extension of the coach, so if Cleveland doesn’t have a true PG on the floor, it’s like the coach isn’t there with the team.

  3. “In the third and fourth, they managed to extend their lead to 20 pts thanks to some stellar play from Jamario Moon and Jose Calderon”

    Hmm… does this mean your finally willing to jump on Moon’s bandwagon? 😛

  4. Dread – Possibly. That block on Pavlovic was just too good. Haha. And yeah, I think I can safely say that he’s good. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was watching Joey fumble around last game instead of Moon. Life is good.

  5. The thing that’s really impressed me about Moon is that he doesn’t force things. He’s someone Sam can throw out there to play defense and he’ll just worry about that – he’ll block shots, rebound, take away passing lanes, deflect passes. He does all the little things but he’ll also do some amazing things that get you jumping out of your seat like the nasty block on Sasha or the nasty dunk he had in the fourth quarter (that shouldn’t have been called off).

  6. Dread – lol. It was a travel! But yeah. I was really impressed when he got the ball in the deep post and pump faked to get his defender in the air. I think on this Raptors team, they don’t use enough pump fakes especially in the post. They need more of an Antonio Davis-like presence (minus the crazy wife)

  7. Raptors seem to have a habit of easing up when they get ahead by 20 plus that they need to correct. I tend to think it is a natural thing for a lot of teams. Same thing happened with the Boston – Miami game last night. Raptors took 2 poor shots and 2 turnovers when up 20 and Cleveland hit 2 open 3’s and 2 layups to get back to 10 down. Its not hard to happen when a team loses focus.

  8. Johnn – Yeah. I’m just concerned cause last year, they didn’t allow teams to get withing 5 or 10 points, even though the might have let the lead whittle down. This year, we’ve seen them outright blow leads against teams such as Philly, which is concerning right now. Still waiting for that first quality win against a quality opponent, but I’m not sweating until the end of December. I was pretty sure the Raptors would be off to a slow start, and .500 is a pretty good slow start 😉

  9. Hey KY,

    B4 you post up the Saturday lost, I wanna break down the defensive problems we had on the Wiz:

    You can say as much about Butler and Jamison, but the player I feared the most was Roger Mason Jr. It was him that made them come back in the 2nd quarter and made us go uphill from there. He had that screwy turn-around that went in and I felt deflated us.

    Bargs never felt like himself after the spill he took, they should of threw in Baston to just cover up on Jamison because Bargnani was missing shots and giving the ball back to Washington.

  10. Luckily I missed the Wiz game for a Christmas do. I heard that Bragnani has a hyper-extended knee as a result of the spill. When did it happen? Well, tonight without Bosh and Bargnani I think we’re toast unless the rest of the team comes up big.

  11. Anthony – Yup. It’s turning too ugly regarding Bargnani. Do you remember to touch passes, the drives to the finger roll, the crisp pacing and decision making? It just seems like he’s regressed to before he turned his game around last year.

    Tfan – I missed the game too. Glad I did actually. It was just too rough to watch. But, that’s the problem with this iteration of the Raptors. They can’t play anything but “shoot ’em out” Basketball, and when it doesn’t work, they’re not smart enough on the offensive to figure out alternative methods to attack a team. Jamario was especially a disappointment, as this is the kind of game you just needed him to step up.

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