It wasn’t pretty but a win is a win. The Cleveland Cavaliers overcame a double-digit halftime deficit to notch a victory over the Toronto Raptors. Here’s how it happened:
Nightly Notables: Strus to the MAX
Max Strus is shaping up to be worth every penny the Cavs spent on him this summer. The sharpshooter is proving to be much more than a perimeter threat, racking up his third double-double of the young NBA season.
Strus finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. All 20 of his points came in a third-quarter flurry that helped spearhead the Cavaliers’ comeback. His efforts on the glass — along with his constant off-ball presence, put Cleveland in a position to seal the deal.
Darius Garland also deserves a quick nod. He scored 24 points and dished 8 assists, steering the ship down the stretch. His patient control of the offense led to three straight scoring possessions, warding off the Raptors in crunch time.
Well... that happened
In a deja vu moment — Tristan Thompson dominated the Raptors for 4 offensive rebounds in his first 4 minutes of playing time. He turned the tides for Cleveland, turning each board into second-chance points.
Thompson injected life into a meandering Cavs team right when they needed it most. His 4 points, 4 boards and 4 assists made him a +7 in just 8 total minutes.
In other words, the Cavaliers’ quintessential Junkyard Dog finally donned the chain.
The vibes are not perfect but the Cavs are as close to full strength as they have been all season. Donovan Mitchell appears to be lumbering through his injury and a shooting slump has hampered his ability to dominate.
Yet, the Cavaliers finally have their entire rotation (minus Ty Jerome and Dean Wade) available to them. If there was ever a time for them to get going, it is right now.
Up next, their final opportunity to enter the NBA’s In-Season Tournament as a Wild Card team. They face the Atlanta Hawks and will not only need to win — but hope for a loss from various other Eastern Conference teams. There is more to it, with their point differential being the determining factor, but just know the Cavs need to win BIG on Tuesday in order to reach Las Vegas.