Game Recap/Notes: Round 2, Game 1: Raptors 112 - Cavs 113 (OT) (Cavs lead 1-0)

Well that was bad. In other news there is something comforting to be reminded that after a decade+ of missing it, it is absolutely terrifying and awful to be rooting against LeBron James in a playoff series. (I know the Piston played the Cavs a couple years ago but we all knew the Pistons didn't really stand a chance so it was different.)

 

 

Box score.

 

Kyle Lowry:

I will need a second look to really judge his defense, but despite some late-game struggles this was actually a pretty good game from Lowry. 18 points on 13 shot equivalents with 10 assists (even with the 4 turnovers) is not a bad finish line. The problem of course is that, other than an and-1 in the closing moments, Lowry did have a bit of a disappearing act in the closing moments of the game and the way he called a panic timeout and then turned around and took a five second call on the inbounds was very bad.

In the end, the real problem was not really that Lowry played poorly, its just that when the chips were down he couldn't quite get it done and more so, didn't really raise his game. It is talked about too much, but there is a reason, the greats raise their play in big games. Lowry just couldn't really do it. The good news remains that he still played pretty well so there is good reason to hope that he can have a game or two this series where he really goes off.

 

DeMar DeRozan:

Same story as Lowry. 22 points on 21 shot equivalents with 5 assists is not a bad outing, especially when you consider that DeRozan actually held up very well on the defensive end of the floor in some tough situations. The problem is that he had just a decent game and couldn't make the necessary plays down the stretch to put the game away. The one thing that can be said for him is that he took and absolute shot form Kevin Love that would've made me quit sports forever and he just kind of kept playing. I'm not saying it bothered him (it didn't look like it) but still worth mentioning. Once again, there is good news, if DeRozan can bring that defensive effort all series it will help the Raptors.

 

OG Anunoby:

Got it done when called upon on offense once again which will remain a very important thing for the Raptors by scoring 7 points on his 5 shots. The bad news is that he joins an ever growing list of young guys with all the tools to guard LeBron and make you go “Wow he looks to be doing a very solid job” and then you check the box score and realize that LeBron is probably not nearly as bothered as you would think he is. I can personally attest to this with Stanley Johnson a couple of years ago. LeBron didn't have an efficient scoring night thanks to some bad three-point shooting and late-game gaffs but anyone who watched that game and thought he was struggling would be wrong.

That said, it isn't like Anunoby did poorly. He did generally make LeBron work at least a bit for his production which is something. He also continues to hit enough shots on offense that defenses can't ignore him. I would guess he gets more minutes in game 2.

 

Serge Ibaka:

Ouch. Ibaka finding his offense back was an important factor for the Raptors. It didn't happen. He scored just 9 points on as many shot equivalents and only grabbed 2 rebounds in 29 minutes. He didn't really even seem to make much impact on defense. Just a bad game for Ibaka, he has to be better the rest of this series. They could get by the Wizards with Ibaka being trash most of the series, harder to do that against LeBron's Cavaliers.

 

Jonas Valanciunas:

On the plus side, the Raptors really got him involved against the smaller Cavs lineups in the second half and he really asserted himself for a while and forced the Cavs to put in Tristan Thompson. The bad news is that when Thompson got in the game Valanciunas basically disappeared. It will be important for them to continue to feed him when the Cavs go small, those lineups remain the scariest Cavs lineups since they are literally unstoppable on the other end and that is how you really take advantage of them. But there has to be a happy spot the rest of the time.

Oh yeah it was also brutal to see him miss so many tips at the end of the game that could've won it.

 

Pascal Siakam:

First off, I continue to be hugely impressed with the way this dude defends. He also got 11 points on just 5 shots which was nice. The downside for him is something I hadn't actually thought of before the series. In theory Siakam might be the best option to hold LeBron on defense, the problem is that LeBron will guard Siakam on the other end and his lack of shooting suddenly allows LeBron to play free safety on that end which is where he is scariest. This fact is a significant reason I am going to play OG more minutes from now on.

 

CJ Miles:

You know the drill. He had 6 points on 6 shots. Decent night for Miles.

 

Jakob Poeltl:

Poeltl continues to struggle in the playoffs. All 4 of his points came at the free throw line as he missed all 3 of his shots from the field, he wasn't impactful on defense, and just generally not very good. He may not be exactly a big difference maker most of the time but he is a real player and the Raptors could really use him back in form.

 

Delon Wright:

The super games from the first round are probably going (largely because FVV is taking some of those minutes away) but he still did decent. 5 points on 6 shots is fine and he still brings good defensive effort.

 

Fred VanVleet:

9 points on 7 shots in 15 minutes is pretty good. The bad news is that he had a pair of wide open threes that would've won the game and he missed them. That stings.

 

General:

The biggest worry is that there was not a lot that said “Fluke” here. DeRozan and Lowry were not great but they were not bad either. LeBron didn't go full destroyer mode, the Cavs didn't shoot 50%+ from deep. The Raptors blew it at the end, but the overall numbers still paint a close game where the better team probably won. That is bad. I still think the Raptors will get it done, but they will have to make real changes.

 

 

What do you think? Can the bench get back right? Can they adjust to Thompson not being hot garbage anymore?