The Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers both entered tonight on the second night of a back to back. The Cavs entered the game with a lot of energy and built an 18 point lead. It was made on quicksand. Reserve guard Lou Williams checked in for the Raptors about halfway through the first quarter and tallied 24 first half points on just nine shots. He picked on Will Cherry, he picked on Dion Waiters. By the time he was done, the Raptors had managed a halftime lead.
Cleveland had moved the ball, pushed it in transition, and contested shots in the first quarter. That trend did not continue. The Raptors kept playing, finished with 42 free throw attempts, made 90% of them, and wound up with a 110-93 win.
Odds and Ends
Kyrie Irving played hard tonight. With just a few minutes left in the first half, he had 18 points on nine shots, four assists, and zero turnovers. He started the game with some impressive defense on Kyle Lowry, and it didn't feel like Williams' damage came with Irving on him. He couldn't sustain the offense in the second half, but it's disappointing to see him work so hard and play well and not have the team take advantage of it.
Kevin Love had a great first quarter. 10 points on five shots, three rebounds, and active hands defensively. He didn't take a shot in the second quarter. After a great start to the second half, his role once again diminished. The Cavs are not having him initiate offense from high post. It's spot up jumpers or post ups. He's too talented for this.
Dion Waiters was largely awful. The trade Dion, don't trade Dion conversations are worth having, but for now it's just worth noting that he really isn't playing well. His jump shot might not be broken, but he's taken over 100 shots this season now, and his percentages are just ghastly. I really didn't see his efficiency going down with an improved cast around him, but that's somehow happened. Six points on nine shots, three turnovers and no assists isn't worth worrying about in a vacuum, but it's been 12 games now. Forget his personality or supposed tension off the court: he just has to play better.
With all due respect to the rest of the Cavaliers, this team will be as good as LeBron James is. The reason there was so much optimism about this team was based around the idea that they had one of, if not the best players in the entire world. He just hasn't been consistently great, and the team has followed suit. 15 points, 12 shots, 10 assists, five turnovers. You can wonder whether he has enough left in the tank to be a great defender anymore, but the silly turnovers and lack of effort getting back after them is correctable. And it should be soon.