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Raptors beat the Cavaliers 98-83, but also who cares?

Bring on Milwaukee, for the love of God

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers came to an agreement to take part in a communal activity that only briefly resembled basketball. The Raptors led this one pretty much wire to wire, never relinquishing an early lead that was established by a lineup that was closer to what we’ll see in the playoffs than what the Cavaliers put out. Let’s just say I’m glad I signed up to recap this game. Easiest write up of my life.

With the Cavaliers resting Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and Kevin Love, this looked very much like the glorified scrimmage we all expected. The Raptors in turn rested DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka as well. Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas and the rest of the rotation players only played half the game to gain some chemistry and get their legs under them. The Cavaliers did the same with Tristan Thompson as well, as he returns from injury.

Essentially, this game was decided by half-time. In the first half, Lowry tested out his shot, ran around a little bit, and the Raptors ran their offence through Jonas Valanciunas to take a 53-37 lead at the break. The second half was the D-League show, as the Raptors’ young guys (Norman Powell, Pascal Siakam, Bruno Caboclo, Jakob Poeltl, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright) held off any hint of a charge by the Cavs vets (James Jones, Iman Shumpert, Dahntay Jones, Richard Jefferson) to maintain the double digit lead and kill this game 98-83.

This game threatened to get really annoying for a while when Milwaukee and Boston were locked up in a tight game through three and a half quarters. A Milwaukee win and a Cleveland win would’ve given the Cavs the 1-seed and lined the Celtics up as the Raptors’ second round opponent should they get past the Bucks. Alas, Boston eventually pulled away so it was moot.

Here are some other things to note from tonight:

  • Jonas Valanciunas hit the first three of his career
  • Edy Tavares, fresh off beating these same Cavs’ D-League affiliate in the playoffs for the Raptors 905, made his Cavs debut. He looked awesome. 6 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocks in 24 minutes.
  • Pascal Siakam’s getting more confident with his jumpshot. He seemed to be overthinking his shot mechanics back when he was starting for the Raptors, but he seemed decisive in hitting a couple of open jumpers tonight.
  • Bruno had probably his best ever appearance as a Raptor, which has to be encouraging for this franchise since they’ve invested a lot in his development. His body looks better than ever, he looks like he actually understands how to play in this system on both ends of the floor, and his shot is really, really smooth. We didn’t get a chance to see it here, but he’s made major strides defensively in the D-League as well. He had 11 points on 5-11 shooting and added 4 rebounds and a block in 17 minutes.
  • Norm Powell had his best game in over a month — 25 points on 10-13 shooting. He didn’t seem to be forcing his offence anymore and with Kyle Lowry there, he was available to thrive in the secondary role that has had Raptors fans bullish on his future. He may not be needed for the playoffs, but it can’t hurt to get his confidence back up for the post-season.
  • Kyle Lowry looks fine.

Bring on Milwaukee. This is the Raptors’ only real game since the win in New York on Sunday and so they should be ready for Game 1 with plenty of rest in the bank.