Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Cleveland Cavaliers came out flat against a team missing it’s key players. The Toronto Raptors eviscerated the Cavaliers 133-99 without the services of Kyle Lowry or Serga Ibaka.
With Lowry out with a tailbone injury, and Ibaka suspended, the Raptors still had absolutely not trouble scoring on a porous Cavs defense. Even with DeMar DeRozan scoring just two points in the first half, Toronto still breezed to a 25 point lead in the first half.
Isaiah Thomas followed up his 3-11 performance against Minnesota with a 0-10 first half and just four points overall. But he wasn’t the only one that struggled. Jae Crowder, J.R. Smith, and LeBron James all offered up no resistance on the perimeter, while Kevin Love struggled to get going offensively.
Things didn’t get much better for the Cavs in the second half. The defensive effort was terrible, as Toronto’s younger players stepped up in a big way to make up for the absence of their veterans. Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam in particular were impressive, as their energy routinely lead to easy baskets against a disengaged Cavaliers defense.
- Another game of Tristan Thompson looking like himself. He is moving around like himself again and appears to have regained his legs. This game could have easily got out of hand early on if it wasn’t for the extra possessions he created in the first quarter. Things got out of hand in the second quarter, but Thompson was one of the few players that had a good performance on the night.
- While the Cavs defense will get most of the headlines, the offense was almost as putrid. Some garbage time points will hide just how little help LeBron received on the offensive end, as the entire starting lineup sans LeBron failed to make an impact on either end of the floor. During the Cavs winning streak, the team made up for an absence of defense from the starting lineup with their offense. Without that, the team simply is no match for a quality opponent.
- Is this rock bottom? Even during the winning streak, the starting lineup for the Cavs was abysmal defensively. Now that they are playing better teams, and have inserted arguably the worst defensive player in the league in Thomas into the starting lineup, it may be time for Tyronn Lue to experiment with other starting lineups.