The Cavaliers(39-25) returned home on Sunday to face the Raptors(30-32), hoping to end a three-game losing streak.
For the first time in four matchups with Toronto this season, Cleveland defeated the Raptors 118-93 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to end their three game losing streak.
Cleveland led by as many as 30 points in their win over Toronto.
Here’s The Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Raptors.
Donovan Mitchell scored 22 of his game-high 35 points in the first half. He was on fire as he shot 13/21 from the field, including 8/12 from deep. Mitchell also added six rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
Darius Garland did a lot of swishing and dishing versus the Raptors. He had a double-double with 18 points, 11 assists, and a career-high two blocks; this was Garland’s 16th double-double of the season.
Jarrett Allen also had a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Allen leads the Cavs with 28 double-doubles this season.
Post-Mitchell Flagrant Foul: With just under seven minutes in the third, Mitchell was called for a flagrant foul on Jakob Poeltl . At that point, the Cavs led 76-66. Mitchell would score 10 of the team’s next 15 points as Cleveland went on a 15-5 run to take a 20-point lead, which was their largest lead in the third. That foul motivated Mitchell and the Cavs, and they never looked back.
Three-Point Shooting: Cleveland was raining threes on Sunday night. They were 18/36(50%) from deep.
Not So Great:
Bench: Cleveland got little from their bench. After three quarters, the Cavs only got two points from its bench; they finished with just 16 points off the bench, and the bench played most of the fourth.
Clearly, the Cavs are going to need more production from their bench.
Good to see the Cavs bounce back and get a win. They needed to get home, and they needed to get this win. Cleveland remains a dominant home team(26-7), which should serve them well come playoff time. Again, they must get more from the bench, but they’ll worry about that another night.
The Cavs get back at it on Wednesday as they battle the Celtics in Boston.
Best of the Rest:
-Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 25 points and eight rebounds.
-Evan Mobley added 18 points, nine rebounds, and four assists.
-The Cavs had 31 assists on 44 field goals.
With 21 games left in the regular season, the 38-23 Cavs are the fourth-seed in the Eastern Conference and should make the playoffs for the time since 2018 and for the time without LeBron James since 1998.
One of the biggest reasons for Cleveland’s success is the addition of four-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell, who Cleveland acquired in the offseason from the Jazz. This season, Mitchell is averaging a career-high 27.3 points per game.
For Cleveland, they can score, but it’s all about defense. The Cavs are the number one rated defensive team in the NBA, and that’s one of the biggest things that stands out for Mitchell.
“I think the biggest thing is, first of all, our defensive effort,” he said Saturday. “You know, obviously, we have talent to score offensively, but defensively I think it will be our staple. It’s something we will continue to build upon as a group. Like I said, we have guys that haven’t been to the playoffs, and I don’t think that will matter. I think we have a group of guys that really continue to put the work in. So when the time comes, we’ll be ready to go. I’m excited to see what we have going forward.
As we look at the standings, things are bunched up in both conferences, and there are no clear-cut favorites at this point, which Mitchell discussed.
“I think the last few years it’s been (that way),” he said. “I would say really after COVID until now; I think there’s been a lot of — really, outside of Golden State, has really been the only consistent (contender) outside of Cleveland when Bron was here. I think there’s a lot of different things that can happen. Knock on wood for everybody in here, but there’s injuries. Health is a big factor. There’s luck. There’s seeding. There’s who you go get. You look at the West; you may run into the Lakers first round. In the East, you have a lot of talented teams at the 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 spots. There’s no guarantees. You have to go out there and take everything. You have to earn it and work for it and be ready when your bell is called.”
The Cavs are definitely in the mix and will be tough out for any team in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland has a young team, and at age 26, Mitchell is the oldest starter for the Cavs, but they have vets in Danny Green and Ricky Rubio. According to Mitchell, he likes the mix of young and old on this team.
“Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Isaac Okoro are really the three out of our starting group, our core group that haven’t been(playoffs),” he said. “With the vets that we have, the guys that we have supporting, I think it’s a great mixture, for sure.”
Can they win a title this season? Probably not, which is not a bad thing. No matter what happens this year, Cleveland’s future is super bright.