The Cleveland Cavaliers had a film session on Wednesday which apparently drove home the point of just how little they were trying on defence.
Suffice to say there had to be a lot of napping going on in that particular film session.
Either that or whatever lesson was driven home was quickly forgotten because an understaffed Raptors squad made a mockery of the Cavs so-called defence.
They scored in every way imaginable and did so without the services of their starting point guard and starting power forward.
But no Kyle Lowry and no Serge Ibaka had little to no effect on the Raptors who coasted to an easy 133-99 beatdown that saw the Raptors up as many as 35 in a game the Cavs never led.
The ball movement that had fallen off in the absence of Lowry a game ago returned in a big way as the 18 first half assists proved on their way to 30 assists in the game.
The lone remaining member of Toronto’s big three wasn’t much of a scoring factor in this one either as DeMar DeRozan readily gave up the ball every time the Cavs threw two defenders at him which in effect was most of the night.
DeRozan only had two points by the half, but was leading the Raptors with seven assists through the first 24 minutes. He would go on to finish with a modest 13 points and a team-high eight assists. More impressively he had to play just 29 minutes in a game in which many expected him to have to carry his team.
The scoring came from everywhere on the roster, first Jonas Valanciunas who had nine points and nine rebounds six minutes into the game before he had to sit down with some early foul trouble. He would return briefly in the second quarter to reach a first-half double-double with 11 boards and 11 rebounds until a third foul put him back on the bench.
The Raptors merely turned to the next guy whether that was Fred VanVleet leading the second unit with a career best 22 points or Pascal Siakam looking to atone for a couple of key defensive gaffes earlier in the week with a 16-point performance.
The Cleveland Cavaliers coming off their worst defensive performance of the year having lost by 28 to Minnesota is normally not a team you want to face. Take two key players out of your lineup and the anticipation would have to be even less.
But as talented as this Cavs team, and it is talented although not as much as it was a year ago, it’s very clear they are not close to making that talent work for them just yet.
Isaiah Thomas, who will sit out tomorrow on the back-end of a back-to-back was only playing his fourth game with his new team after recovery from a right hip injury. He’s going to need time to find his niche alongside the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Love.
But back-to-back defensive brain cramps in which the Cavs gave up 1277 points in consecutive games and then that stinker last night in Toronto makes it very plain the issue in Cleveland is not working one new starter into the mix.
Give the Raptors credit though. They came out charged up and never let their foot off the gas.
Casey called on his secondary players to step up in the absence of a large chuck of their offence with Lowry and Ibaka out and his charge was met.
Norm Powell, a guy desperate for minutes and struggling to find any rhythm for the better part of the past six weeks had a much needed get-well night with 20 minutes of run and 12 points along with five rebounds and three assists.
Fred VanVleet basically re-wrote his career best listings with a 22 points night which was a career best as were his six three’s his eight attempts from three and his 11 field goal attempts.
LeBron James led all scorers in the game with 26 but it was his mid-game takeover of a timeout that will be the talking point of this game.
James appeared to hi-jack head coach Ty Lue’s timeout to let off a little steam in the direction of what looked like every member of the Cavs roster.
Don’t be fooled. The Cavs are down right now, but history says that come playoff team they will have things righted.
For a night though it had to feel pretty good for the Raptors to be the one’s laying the beating rather than on the receiving end of it which they have been too often with this Cavs team.
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies