The Cleveland Cavaliers traveled to Toronto to battle the Raptors Thursday night in their biggest game of the season to date. Coming into this game, the sixth-seeded Cavs had a one-game lead over the seventh-seeded Raptors.
Toronto led for most of the game and had their largest lead of 17 points in the fourth as the Raptors defeated the Cavs 117-104 at Scotiabank Arena.
Pascal Siakam had a season-high tying 35 points, including a career-high tying six threes for Toronto as they had six players in double figures.
With the win, the Raptors(41-32) and Cavs(41-32) are tied for the sixth seed in the East, but Cleveland holds the tie-breaker since they won the season series (3=1).
Teams seeded 7-10 in their conference will have to battle it out in the Play-In Tournament to make the playoffs.
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Raptors.
The Great for the Cavaliers:
-Lauri Markkanen came to play Thursday night, and he had a team-high 20 points. In the last 14 games, Markkanen has had 20-plus points six times.
-Darius Garland had another double-double with 18 points and 10 assists. This is Garland’s fourth straight double-double. He did not shoot it well(7/18 FG, 1/6 3-PT FG), but he did do his part.
The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:
First Quarter: Cleveland led 10-5 with just under eight minutes in the first, but they were outscored 20-7 the rest of the quarter, including a 15-0 run from Toronto. The Cavs struggled to score as they shot 30% from the field, including 1/8 from downtown. After the first, Toronto led 25-17 and took a 58-48 lead at halftime.
Cleveland’s three-point defense: The Cavs allowed Toronto to make 16 threes, nine of which came in the second half.
Fast Break Points: Cleveland let the Raptors have a lot of success in transition. The Raptors had 18 fast break points, which means Cleveland allowed too many easy buckets. Cleveland also had 13 turnovers, which led to 17 points for Toronto.
Fourth Quarter: Toronto led 83-75 after three quarters, and they shot it well in fourth. The Raptors shot 60% from the floor. Cleveland cutt the lead to seven with just under 10 minutes to go, but the Raptors went on a 12-5 run to push the lead to 14. Toronto outscored the Cavs 34-29 in the fourth.
Evan Mobley: Coming into Thursday’s game against Toronto, Mobley(two games) was averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds against the Raptors. Mobley shot 14 times in the first matchup and 15 times in the game against the Raptors on March 6, where he had 20 points and 17 rebounds.
On Thursday night, Mobley got up only seven shots and finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks. Clearly, he needed more touches.
Toronto is playing some good basketball right now and has won seven of their last nine games, so the Raptors are hot basketball team.
This was another game that had a playoff atmosphere, and the Cavs were just not up to the task. The Raptors are a battled-tested team, and they looked that way Thursday night.
Regarding Toronto, three of their final nine games are against teams in the playoffs(1-6 in their respective conference), while five of the Cavs’ final nine games are against playoff teams(1-6 in their respective conference), so you could argue the schedule favors the Raptors.
“They outplayed us,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about Toronto. “Give them credit where credit is due.”
The Cavs begin a three-game homestand Saturday night in Cleveland against the Bulls.
Best of the Rest:
Kevin Love got the start for Cleveland and had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Lamar Stevens was in double figures for the third straight game as he had 16 points and six rebounds off the bench. Cleveland had six players in double figures Thursday night.
-Chris Boucher had 17 points off the Raptors’ bench.
Watch below as Bickerstaff reacts to loss to Raptors: