Raptors 96, Cavaliers 88 – Box

Ha! Take that, Cleveland! You might be having a non-shit season, but you are NOT good enough to look past the Raptors. No, sir. Maybe last year’s Raptors under Triano would’ve obliged by surrendering early, not so much this year. Last night was all about the Cavaliers thinking they might have it easy against this wounded Raptors team, only to find that the visitors had come with the intent of delivering a professional effort. That they did, in spades. Other than DeRozan’s plague-ridden performance which had him neutralized, nay, castrated by Anthony Parker, Raptors fan saw positives everywhere.

The early act had the guile of Antawn Jamison exploring and exploiting Amir Johnson, who you can’t say didn’t do his best to defend the crafty veteran, while adding a few points on the “roll” end of the PnR shifts. The first quarter was an ugly affair, with both sides missing jumpers, turning the ball over (Raptors had 5), and justifying ESPN’s decision not to make this a nationally televised affair. Cleveland pushed out to a five point lead in the second on the strength of some great play by Ramon Sessions, who was proving too quick to handle off the bounce. With Kyrie Irving struggling early and Bayless convalescing on the bench, reflecting on his very un-PG like first quarter, it was Sessions who stole the show early in the second, and it looked like Cleveland was on its way to extending the lead. Soon after, though, little-known Gary Forbes turned up with a hop in his step and decided that he’d just run down the Cleveland lane and slam one down.

Forbes’ play in the second had to have given Bayless pause, at one point I saw him muttering to himself probably saying, “Wait, Calderon is injured, I’m guaranteed starting minutes, and here I am getting outplayed by Gareth Fawn…err Gary Ford..um..Gary..whatever that guy’s name is”. To sum up, Forbes led a great attack and was helped by 12 points from Leandro Barbosa, and 8 from Andrea Bargnani in the second. Cleveland’s rebounding, which was great early on, took a hit as Ed Davis’ out-JYD’d Tristan Thompson. The Raptors, in general, gave more quantities of shit than the Cavs.

Remember the season when Voshon Lenard singlehandedly won us, like, 10 games and it kinda, sorta, but not really, cost us LeBron James? Well, this year’s incarnation of Voshon Lenard is Leandro Barbosa. This guy’s confidence does not take a hit no matter how bad he missed a shot. This guy could be in bed with with the girl of his dreams, things start getting a little heavy, and next thing you know he pops before it even starts. Would he be embarrassed? Would his confidence suffer? Ha. You’re kidding me. He’d go down to the fridge, have himself a beer, some cold pizza, watch half an episode of Family Guy, and be back upstairs and say, “Let’s try that again”.

What I’m trying to get at is that Barbosa is a gunner. He had 17 points in 25 minutes in typical style, and along with Bargnani, was the offensive reason why we edged to an eight point halftime lead. The late second quarter performance and killed the crowd, shifted the momentum completely to the visitors, and had me feeling very good until I saw “Rod and Leo” rear their collectively useless heads to talk about some inane stuff nobody cares about. Honestly, skipping halftime is why I PVR games. The Raptors were shooting 58% at halftime to Cleveland’s 41%, the Cavs doing themselves no favors by shooting 3-15 from three for the game.

The third started and Jerryd Bayless, after having a careful think-about on the bench, came back into the game in a big way – 20 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds. He hit a couple threes, step-back variety, not the greatest shots but hey, they went in. It extended the lead up to double-digits, and also woke up Kyrie Irving, and the two had a one-on-one affair going for a bit. For my money, that was the best part of the game. I don’t understand why Bayless didn’t see any pressure in the second half when he had clearly struggled under it in the first, but whatever, I guess Byron Scott being a dumbass explains that.

The Raptors went to DeRozan in the post against Parker, and honestly, DeRozan in the post doesn’t buy the team anything. If he hits his turnaround (a low-percentage shot in my books), great, if not, then all it does is waste shot-clock because it rarely results in an assist (albeit, he had one to James Johnson today but Johnson did 90% of the work on that one). Aaron Gray had a very busy game, threw his body around, went after loose balls, and other than having a brain cramp to concede a rebound off a missed FT in the first half, had a Rashoesque performance. He reminds me of Hodor from Game of Thrones. Bayless had a few Baylessy moments late in the third when he missed two really suspect threes, but Kleiza’s trey and a great Ed Davis roll had the Raptors up 10 entering the fourth.

Tight guard play from Barbosa and Bayless supplied the knockout punch in the fourth. You know how we always saw that we need a guy you can go to in the fourth who can just flat out score, well, sometimes it’s offensive-minded players like Barbosa and Bayless that come up trumps in these situations. Not consistently, but sometimes. Cleveland’s best chance to put pressure came when they cut it to six and the Raptors turned the ball over on a Bayless charge. Jamison took a really quick three which airballed, and on the ensuing possession, Bargnani made a clever back-cut which was found by Bayless. I thought Bargnani should’ve continued his drive to the rim, but he pulled up and sank it. Brilliant, job done.

Bargnani. He’s been the most talented Raptor for some time now, and now he’s putting it together. He had 19 points and 8 rebounds, and they weren’t the type that fall in your lap, either. He wasn’t hesitant as against Detroit and Milwaukee, and showcased all aspects of his game. He faked and drove, posted up, hit the step-back jumper, drew a foul on the perimeter, hit a fadeaway, the whole package. Good to see the man regain his form so quickly after coming back. He clocked 29 minutes (had 30 against Milwaukee on a back-to-back) so I expect him to get the same burn tonight as well.

The moment of the game for me was Barbosa diving on the ball with under two minutes left to call timeout. I thought he was going to break his ribs because he landed right ON the ball. Great hustle and something you absolutely love to see from a veteran who might not even be here come Thursday. If he is traded, I can honestly say that he’s been a joy to watch in Toronto. Yes, he’s frustrating at times but that’s his game, that’s what makes him good, and it’s something he does consistently. Very good player, unfortunately though, the Raptors and their near-term direction doesn’t suit his career path.

Raptors win in Cleveland, taking them to 3-0 against the Cavs this season, and to think they had the nerve to think this was going to be a cakewalk. Suck on that.

  • Daniel

    One of the best writings ever, Arse. Congrats.

  • Milesboyer

    “This guy could be in bed with with the girl of his dreams, things start getting a little heavy, and next thing you know he pops before it even starts. Would he be embarrassed? Would his confidence suffer? Ha. You’re kidding me. He’d go down to the fridge, have himself a beer, some cold pizza, watch half an episode of Family Guy, and be back upstairs and say, “Let’s try that again”.
    -priceless

  • CantDL

    RR writers entertain.

  • East Coast

    Top shelf stuff this morning Arse. 

  • http://twitter.com/DanSports Dan Levine

    Ideally, Raps trade Barbosa, Bayless becomes the new combo/scoring guard off the bench and Calderon plays PG (sign a cheap pass-first backup PG). 

    Unless the Raps get a great offer for Jose, of course.

    • Cdhall

      Agree with Barbosa, but what makes DeMar the starting SG? His performance to date this year? Why not give Bayless a shot at starting at the SG when Jose comes back? Let the Raps give Forbes a shot at backup PG? Bring DeMar off the bench (maybe it will make him work hard to get back to a starter). Isn’t this a year to evaluate the talent currently on the team? It won’t hurt with the TANK nation either.

      • Destro

        Bayless cant regularly start at the 2,he’s too small…

        • http://twitter.com/DanSports Dan Levine

          Agreed, that’s my thinking. Unless Bayless figures out how to run a team, he won’t play PG long-term. And he’s too small to play SG unless he’s paired with a tall, defensive-beast PG. 

          DeRozan definitely doesn’t have the starting SG spot locked up, though, IMO. He hasn’t earned it yet, and there’s a decent chance the Raps draft someone who ends up taking his spot down the line (Beal, Rivers, etc). On the other hand, DD is young and learning, so he may be the starting SG in the future.

          I’m just thinking it’s not logical to retain both Bayless and Barbosa.. but the SG/SF spots are totally up in the air.

          • Destro

            If the Raps draft in the top 5-7 they wont take a SG…Beal and Rivers wont go that high…and they arent going to draft a need over talent in the top 5… 

            • http://twitter.com/DanSports Dan Levine

              Too early to say that for sure.

              FYI Draft Express currently has Beal at No. 7 and I can’t see the Raps drafting a PF, can you? (I’m talking Thomas Robinson/Sullinger.. Anthony Davis is an obvious exception)

              Regardless, the main point was that DD is not locked in as the long-term SG

              • Destro

                Not really,they are gonna be in that 4-7 area and Beal and Rivers arent going that high..Rivers is a mid 1st rounder and even then i wouldnt take him…and yes if Robinson is there on the board,Raps will take him…

          • Cdhall

            Draftexpress has beal and rivers at 6’4″.R u saying that you would take one of them at SG and their height is ok but 6’3″ is toooo small.Bayless is 6’3″. 

            • Cdhall

              what do you think about the rest of the original comment? What would you do with Forbes? Should the raps be playing the young talent more so as to get a good evaluation of what they have? 

  • jwss

    Great analysis and humor.  Icing on the cake is the Comic Sans font.  Take that Dan Gilbert!

  • Bayleaver

    Great read Arse, very funny and entertaining.

  • 1R

    i am really enjoying james johnson.  the development is palpable.   

  • Pizzaman

    great write up. As much as Barbosa may not fit into the future plans I will miss him, and Bayless will not be able to fill his shoes. The Raptors will miss having a bench guy that can create his own shot and take the momentum out of your opponent. Guys like Barbosa are rare.

  • voy

    yeah. Bargs has that look on his face that tells you he thinks he can do whatever he wants on the floor and no one can stop him.  Same kind of look Adebisi had before the threw down a solid man-on-man rape in Oz. 

    • Ihatehaters

      Ummm… yea.  😐

  • Nate

    Wow, awesome article. Made my day.

  • why

    Both this season and last, the limited number of Rap wins seem to coincide with productive efforts by Bargnani and Barbosa. When they are off their game or iinjured theys truggle to win …..

    If Barbosa is traded or does not return next year, unless Colangelo finds a way to replace his production I think the Raps are at a risk of taking a step back regadless of the arrival of JV and high draft pick.

    • Nilanka15

      I personally don’t think this team is that dependent on Barbosa to win games.  His individual skillset will be hard to replace this offseason, but his production can be replaced by a combination of players.

  • Theswirsky

    Fuck yeah!  Raps take down the 16-23 Cavs.  Fuck yeah!

    No die attitude.  Winner takes all!  Fuck Yeah

    Raps are real men.  Real winners.  Fuck yeah

    Raps take down the 16-23 Cavs………….

    • Nilanka15

      lmao!

  • Nilanka15

    “To the rest of the NBA, the Toronto Raptors are a low-scoring, unimposing,
    draft-lottery bound opponent.

    To the Cavaliers, they are a floor-stretching, rebound-retrieving menace that does awful things
    to their rookie point guard’s shooting statistics.”

    http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/sports/2012/03/14/raptors-continue-to-torment-cavs.html

  • Truthkiller

    YOOOOO i told you guys not to sleep on J.B, this guy was balling and that 3 pointer right in irving’s eye.. take that rookie.

  • RRFan

    Hahaha classic the postgame is written in comic sans

  • Destro

    If i were the leagues offices id administer bargnani a steroids test after watching him grab an offensive board and then dunk it….

    • Lorenzo

       That play was real nasty, porbably play of the year.

      • Destro

        play of the year for who ? Bargnani ? sure…it was impressed he actually followed up his miss for once,the dunk itself was kind of bland…

        • Lorenzo

           What were you expecting? A 360 Tomahawk Windmill? Dunk was fine, just needs to put some more power to it.

  • cb

    terrible win. years of mediocrity is all we have to look forward to.

    unless a miracle happens and BC gets fired; can’t be soon enough to be rid of bargs as well.  still blows my mind that six years later fans still cling to his badness.

  • Andre Börg

    I love a good font joke.  kudos.