The Toronto Raptors entered tonight down their three best players. They’d lost two straight and six of their last eight games. The Cleveland Cavaliers had just played two of their best games this season. The planets were lining up for a third consecutive wine-and-gold winner. Instead, the Raptors undressed (redressed?) the streaking Cavaliers, 135–115.
The Raptors decided instead to never miss any shots ever. They didn’t miss a shot for the first nine minutes of the game. They finished the first quarter with 47 points, their best offensive quarter of the season. For the most fleeting of moments, a 100-point half didn’t feel that far out of the realm of possibility. The halftime score: Raptors 87(!!!!!!!!!), Cavaliers 54.
The thing is, the Cavaliers weren’t even that bad offensively! 115 points on 45 percent from the field will get you a win a lot of nights! Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in particular had another solid outing, combining for 48 and spearheading an extended run during which a one-time 38-point deficit got as low as 12 early in the fourth. But clutch defense by Stanley Johnson and career performances from Gary Trent Jr., Malachi Flynn, and Yuta Watanabe led the Raptors out of the Cavalier avalanche before it buried them. It can be hard to make constructive takeaways when your opponent is as atom-smashingly hot as the Raptors were tonight, but the Cavaliers battled back made something resembling a game of things. That’s...something!
Up next: The Cavaliers will blow in the cartridge and try again as they finish their season series New Orleans Pelicans at home tomorrow night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.