The Cavs dip to two games below .500 with a blowout loss to the Raptors.
A week ago, The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Atlanta Hawks for their fourth-straight win. The Cavs sat at 5-3 and appeared to finally be settling in after some earlier season struggles. A lot changed in a week. Cleveland hasn’t won since and was blown out 110-93 by the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, Cleveland’s fourth-straight loss.
Lou Williams led the way for the Raptors, coming off the bench to score 36 points in the win. Toronto improved to 11-2 with the win and continue to look like a force in the Eastern Conference. While the Cavs struggled at the line, making just 20-of-29 attempts, Toronto took advantage of the charity stripe, making 38-of-42 attempts. Williams was a perfect 15-of-15 from the line.
Cleveland still has 70 regular season games to get the wrinkles ironed out, but judging by the result on Saturday, there is still a lot of work to do.
Here are a couple things we learned in the game.
1. The Raptors guards are really good
Kyle Lowry is a very solid starting point guard, while DeMar DeRozan is an up-and-coming shooting guard. Williams coming off the bench gives the Raptors three guards capable of carrying the load and that is exactly what they did against Cleveland. Lowry, DeRozan and Williams combined to score 79 of Toronto’s 110 points. They were efficient in doing it too, combining to shoot 21-of-51 from the floor and 32-of-34 from the line. The Cavs are sorely missing a player like Williams to ignite the offense off the bench. Cleveland’s bench combined for just 19 points, barely more than half of Williams’ total.
2. The Cavs’ defense still needs a lot of work
During the first quarter, the Cavs looked like the super team some expect them to be. LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving combined for 20 points in the quarter while the Cavs limited the Raptors to 28.6 percent shooting. The offense/defense combination allowed Cleveland to jump out to a 34-21 lead. Then, everything went sour. The Cleveland defense fell apart in the second quarter and Toronto erased the lead, shooting 58.8 percent and scoring 35 points in the second quarter. The Cavs were still within reach at the start of the fourth quarter, but the offense went cold and the Raptors poured in 29 points to pull away.
3. Growing pains still aren’t very fun
Getting this many new pieces to gel as a solid team is a long, tedious process. It’s a great bonus when a team can work through the growing pains while winning. When they have to struggling through adjustment while losing … well it’s easy to get frustrated.