The Toronto Raptors defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in their first game of the season by 108 to 105. The game had a playoff feel and it was intense right to the end. Pascal Siakam led the Raptors in scoring with 23 points, 11 rebounds and three steals. Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 31 points as he looked effective in his Cavaliers’ debut. The Raptors jumped out to a 28 to 22 lead after the first quarter. However, the Cavaliers came in the second quarter with a 13 to 0 run to take the lead. They held the lead right up until the fourth quarter. However, the Raptors turned up their defense and outscored the Cavaliers 32 to 21 to come back and win the game. Here are my pros and cons of last night.
Toronto Raptors Defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 108 to 105 – Pros
Koloko was Impactful – His box score shows that he had three points and six rebounds in 15 minutes which is pretty good for an NBA debut. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. When Koloko came in, he changed the dynamic of the game. He provided true rim protection and as a result the Cavaliers were adjusting their shots due to Koloko’s size. He also guarded Evan Mobley very well and caused him to either alter his shots or pass it. He even guarded well on the perimeter, staying in front of the Cavalier guards. His size and mobility definitely threw Cleveland off and was a big reason why the Raptors held their early lead. For me he was the biggest bright spot as it bodes well for the Raptors moving forward.
Scottie Barnes Makes his Impact – Barnes had a nice game with scoring 15 points, seven assists, three rebounds and two steals. However, it is more impressive when you consider that he had foul trouble for most of the game. Even more impressive was that he was a plus 20 in plus/minus which was the highest for any player. His impact was especially felt in the fourth quarter where he played with intensity in attacking the rim, hustling and making spectacular passes. His last pass to precious Achiuwa to seal the game was a perfect example of this.
The Starters looked Good – They really did! They started the game and got the Raptors the early lead. Also, in the fourth quarter, they hit key three point shots and then turned up the pressure on defense. Their intensity was off the charts and they caused Cleveland to have five turnovers in the last quarter. For the game, the starters had 13 of the Raptors 15 steals with Fred Van Fleet leading the way with four. Finally the starters shot well from the three point line.
Toronto Raptors Defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 108 to 105 – Cons
The Bench was Meh – Aside from Christian Koloko and a late push by Precious Achiuwa, the bench was not great. When the Raptors took out Christian Koloko and put in Thaddeus young and Juancho Hernangomez, the Cavaliers immediately went on their run. They were dominated by the Cavaliers bench. However, this was not surprising as Raptors had Chris Boucher, Otto Porter Jr. and Malachi Flynn out with injury. I am not overly concerned as once they get these players back, they will be pretty deep.
Juancho Hernangomez did not look Good – He only had a rebound and a steal in the game and did not play the second half. Juancho looked like he was trying but he was having little impact on the game. Perhaps it was because he is still learning the system and the Raptors are still trying to get use to playing with him. But it was very underwhelming. As I was watching him, I was thinking perhaps someone like DJ Wilson or Josh Jackson Jr. might have looked better? However, it is only one game and we will have to wait and see if he improves.
Too Many Turnovers for Starters– The Raptors only had 13 turnovers which is good but the starters had 12 of them. This is probably because it is early in the season but it would be nice for the starters to get this down to single digits. Not a huge concern but something they need to clean up.
The Toronto Raptors defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers was a good hard fought win. Both teams are going to be tough to beat this year. It was a good litmus test for the Raptors to see where they are at after the off season. They had to play hard to get the win which is good because the first chunk of games this season are against division and playoff rivals. If the Raptors, play well and win their fair share of games during that stretch, then this season might be a memorable one. On to Brooklyn on Friday!
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