The Cavaliers clearly struggled to navigate the chaos. Collin Sexton, in particular, had a brutal go of it: 9 points, 4-for-17 shooting, and multiple catastrophically doomed drives in crunch time. As a whole, the Raptors turned 18 Cavaliers turnovers into 23 points, and that doesn’t even account for all the tipped passes and tight contests.
For a team named after velociraptors, the Raptors sure do employ a lot of pterodactyls. Toronto’s rotation includes five players with seven-foot wingspans (six if you include Dalano Blanton’s 6’10”-but-definitely-actually-longer arms), and as you might imagine, playing basketball against a band of winged dinos tends to get chaotic.
Despite that, the Cavs stayed attached throughout the game. When the Raptors went up by 15 early in the third quarter, Darius Garland kept the Cavs alive with a flurry of buckets and dimes. When Garland went out, Cedi Osman tagged in and drilled a pair of threes to close in just a little more.
The Cavaliers went on the road against the hottest team in the league, were down three key rotation players, had a relatively off night, and won anyway. The biggest reason: their stars took control late. Garland had just 4 points at halftime; he ended the night with 21, including the game-winning free throws, and 8 assists. Jarrett Allen put up a double-double (16 points, 15 rebounds) on just six field goal attempts, controlled the paint late, and even banked in a Hail Mary three. Win or lose, what matters is finding players who can do that.
Of course, the Cavs did win, so that’s pretty tight too. They are now 6-4 on the year.
Up next: The Cavaliers travel to Madison Square Garden to play the New York Knicks on Sunday night. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. EST