Maybe it’s like humans needing air and water that the Cavs will always destroy the Raptors at least once a year.
POSITIVE: KEVIN LOVE TOUCHDOWN PASS
I missed this — this is the first one Love has converted all year.
Also: Love took four charges in this game. That’s a lot!
NEGATIVE: Cedi Osman’s offensive woes
Cedi Osman is going to have night were he struggles on offense — he’s just not at a point in his career or in a role where his offense is going to remain consistent. Against the Raptors, who stuck Kawhi Leonard on him for most of the game, that’s especially true. In 35 minutes Monday, Osman finished with 19 points on 6-16 shooting. The floaters where Osman beats his man with a nice move, but leaves his shot short, are shots he has to make. If he starts hitting then with consistency, it can help him get to another level as a player.
To his credit, Osman made a few tough shots — including a nice left handed finish on the block — and was good at setting up others on Monday. There were moments, if fleeting, where he was out of range of Leonard’s freakish hands and had open looks at the basket. He just didn’t convert. Which, again, will happen. It just stands out more when Kevin Love wasn’t able to get the number or types of shots he’s gotten since returning from injury, at least until he went off in his third quarter.
Monday’s game continued Osman’s recent struggles on offense, and the Cavs have to hope he can turn it around during the final stretch chunk of the season.
POSITIVE: The Cavs looked like a real NBA team
Yes, the Raptors came in on the second night of a back-to-back whereas the Cavs had been off since Saturday. That absolutely impacted their quality of play.
But consider this: The Cavs were down Matthew Dellavedova, Larry Nance Jr., Tristan Thompson and John Henson. Those are real NBA players who are good. The team struggled to get Love any open looks. At one point, Larry Drew played a lineup of Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, Nik Stauskas, David Nwaba and Marquese Chriss for several minutes in a row on purpose. The Raptors had Kawhi freaking Leonard. It would not have been shocking if the Cavs had gotten creamed.
But they didn’t. The team fought for loose balls and nabbed offensive rebounds. It stayed resilient when the Raptors looked like they might be taking control of the game. Sexton was awesome. Ante Zizic outplayed Marc Gasol on both ends. Marquese Chriss really irked Serge Ibaka. Just about everyone on the team did something positive at some point too — how many times can that be said of this season?
This success will be fleeting. Toronto is headed to the playoffs. Cleveland is not. But for this game, it did not matter — the Cavs were a real life, well-functioning NBA team.