Raptors battle back from a slow start and defeat the short-handed Cavs

Cleveland Cavaliers 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
98 Toronto Raptors
Amir Johnson, PF Shot Chart 25 MIN | 2-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +1Amir is still rounding back into form and the box score might not showcase gaudy numbers but his presence on the floor improves the defense (even when it’s not functioning at it’s best). His screens and help defense are still team best. Score may seem high but I attribute our better defensive efforts to his solid defense.

Terrence Ross, SF Shot Chart 37 MIN | 9-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +4Only player hitting with any consistency in first half (12 points) though he missed a spectacular dunk that could have added some much needed energy to offense. His defense on Irving was stymieing his every move and frustrating him at every turn. Best player on both ends this evening.

Jonas Valanciunas, C Shot Chart 29 MIN | 8-12 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +11Lowry made concerted effort to involve the big man early, but for the second consecutive game he failed to understand he needs to take the ball up with force until Lowry spoon fed him a gimme near the end of second quarter. Got the hook early (6 mins in) as he spent more time watching others grab rebounds instead of fighting for position. Casey must have found the perfect mix of cajoling and yelling as he reappeared in the third quarter a man possessed on both ends leaving only after he picked up a fourth personal foul (maybe one day Roy Hibbert can tell the zebra’s Jonas understands verticality!).

Kyle Lowry, PG Shot Chart 35 MIN | 5-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 9 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +2Not a stellar first half offense-wise, but as we’ve come to expect he does the intangibles at critical times such as key assists, steals or defense to stop runs. Overall team defense lead to a 28-10 run but Kyle was often the catalyst on both ends. I’m sure his middle name is Clutch.

DeMar DeRozan, SG Shot Chart 39 MIN | 5-14 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +2Luol Deng demonstrated why he’ll be a key free agent come summer with his shut down defense on DeRozan in the first half. During the same time frame DeMar seemed to settle far too often for field goals instead of dribbling away from Deng or passing. This was all rectified following the half when it appeared he either chose to listen to Casey or change his approach. Wondering if he’s still suffering from a New Orleans’ hang over or if it was just the Deng effect.

Tyler Hansbrough, PF Shot Chart 17 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -1For the second consecutive game Mr. Energy brought exactly that off the bench while instilling toughness and hustle especially in minutes played with Amir. Aside from Ross he kept his team mates in the game in that abysmal first half

Patrick Patterson, PF Shot Chart 20 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +1It was a tale of two halves for Patterson who seemed slow and outmatched in the first half but energized and committed in the second. It wasn’t his best outing but the final 24 minutes definitely made me forgive and forget his first 24.

John Salmons, SF Shot Chart 19 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +4Had his hands full on defense guarding Deng and Irving however he performed better in the second half. His veteran leadership and ball handling late in the fourth beside Lowry allowed Toronto to maintain their lead and get the subsequent victory.

Steve Novak, SF Shot Chart 6 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3Hmm, well he was a +3 in his 6 minutes of playing time in first half and he managed to spread the floor with his presence shooting a rusty 0 of 2

Greivis Vasquez, PG Shot Chart 15 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +8I’ll never be in love with the chippy in the lane; I cringe every time he attempts it. He continues to float between moments of brilliance for me followed by moments of: Of no he didn’t. Dare I say he seems to be finding his niche?

Dwane Casey
Best move he made in the game was an early yank of a disinterested Valanciunas and based on Jonas’ play in the third quarter it was followed with an earful in the locker room. Obvious half time adjustments were made which led to immediate dividends as the Raptors took over in the third. I am pondering if a coach who has improved defense this much still isn’t getting the zebra’s whistle vs. inferior teams if he’ll ever get the call; which leads me to believe he’ll need to blow a gasket in a game that matters at some point.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Seeing Anthony Bennett more svelte and connecting on his first shot attempt brought a smile to my face especially with all the ridicule the young Canadian has had to endure. Tristan Thompson remains a player I follow the progress of and appreciate for his minutes in a Canadian jersey this past summer. Hey, I’m not pulling for them to beat the Raptors, but it does demonstrate the emergence of young Canadians into the NBA which has me looking forward to future summers of International play.
  2. The first few possessions of the game I scratched my head wondering if Duane Casey has been reading Raptors Republic as plays were run specifically for Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas. Of note: many have said involvement early appears to lead to better efforts on both ends from our sophomores. For his part Ross immediately responded and maintained his prowess throughout the game. Jonas on the other hand needed an early yank and I suspect an major scolding at half time, but he responded in a big way.
  3. The third quarter defense shut down Cleveland’s offense and simultaneously ignited Toronto’s offense when they went on a 28-10 run. More importantly the Raps lowered the Cavaliers’ field goal percentage from 45.7% at half to 30.4% in the third quarter. I continue to hope a steady diet of basement dwellers in their final 27 games will provide the Raptors with the opportunity to apply this type of defense for a full 48 minutes.
  4. Amir Johnson even at less than 100% still makes the squad better on both ends with his screens and help defense. His awe inspiring block on Zeller in the third seemed to energize the entire team and ACC audience.
  5. Can I just finish by saying a big thank you to Masai for not trading Kyle Lowry. Regardless of stats and analytics Lowry has something you cannot teach or learn; a will to compete and an ability to sense the occasion. Time and again this year he is the Raptor who rises up to make a key steal, make a critical bucket to score a run or take a charge at exactly the moment it’s required. Maybe, just maybe Coach is reading us and he’ll think to put the ball in this young man’s hands the next time we’re in a 3 point or less game. Personally, I wouldn’t bet against him making the right decision.
  • leftovercrack

    This game was won by the spirit of Nando de Colo

    • De Cola

      To celebrate, Nando is taking the team to one of those upscale orgies where everyone is wearing ballroom masks.

      • leftovercrack

        Nando de Culo, for those who speak Spanish

    • Ho Tep

      Nando gets the B+ for his mere presence. Vasquez looked awake tonight.

    • arsenalist

      More than his spirit was there – https://vine.co/v/MmatWX2wmwP

      • DDayLewis

        Someone needs to befriend him. The Landry-Novak clique should initiate him into the end of the bench.

        • Harold

          They’re probably worried he’ll steal their girlfriends/wives/daughters/sons. Heck, when I saw that Vine footage I couldn’t even finish saying “Nando De Colo is in the Raps’ locker room” before my wife of 47 years completely vanished with all our belongings. I’m not sad though because I know she’ll be far happier waiting at the foot of Nando’s bed 24/7 than she would doing anything else. We all would.

    • What the

      yeah he got Clair pregnant on trade day


    To everyone hating on JV last game. Shut.the.—-.up.

    • asifyouknow

      Not me I love the 21 year old in a few year he will be bigger and stronger and hell to deal with…

      • Ion66

        I like him. He’s developing into a big, young Rasho Nesterovic. :)

        • Redrap

          I like Rasho fine but to me, that’s almost a backhanded compliment. Jonas’ll be way better than Rasho, imo.


      Please, spare me. The guy is useless on a b2b after the ASB, but now people are to STFU after he gets a day off and shows up vs CLV, of all teams. How low exactly is this bar of expectations you have?

      • FLUXLAND

        Yeah, just too bad we don’t play CLV every night, eh?

        Teach me about hoops? LOLOLO.. You weren’t lying about being a funny guy, that’s for sure.

  • caccia

    Nice write-up, Tamberlyn! My one caveat: you need only mention Casey vs. Valanciunas once. I have trouble believing that Casey ever deserves an A+, but maybe an A for this game. Also, it would be nice if he also ran a play for Hansbrough every once in a while, especially when his game is on.

    • Lucamacus

      You don’t run plays for guys like hansbrough

      • arsenalist

        I tend to agree. I don’t even think Hansbrough is expecting plays to be run for him. He had a great game IMO, and matched the Cavs’ physicality. When he does get the ball at the end of a broken play or something, he does well to get a shot up or get fouled (far better than I was expecting), but dedicating possessions to his offense seems extreme.

        • Reed

          Casey doesn’t even run plays for Amir Johnson and JV after the first quarter. His coaching looks acceptable because of Lowry and Derozan. Wish the Raps had a coach who actually took advantage of mismatches.

          Can’t believe Casey put Novak in the game against a team who has no interior defense. Baffling. Should have got a C this game.

    • Tamberlyn Richardson

      I was just talking to William and had issues uploading the post and actually we were just laughing about the grade which was suppose to be a B. He’d need to get thrown out of a game spurring the Raps to a comeback win for me to give him an A+ . Sorry about that one.

      • Chewwy No Matthew

        I agree that it is so frustrating watching Casey not get a technical for bad calls yet his players have been taking quite a few lately. Casey needs to show his guys he is willing to sacrifice and an official has no fear of him. Also NBA refs are famous for make up calls after giving a technical to a coach.

        • FREEJV

          Casey likes his money its the last year of his contract loool

        • What the

          how is it going to look on his COY thingy? teck are for next season or in the playoffs

      • arsenalist


  • jakdripr

    Didn’t watch the game unfortunately, glad to see not only did we win but our sophomores brought it. Was starting to get worried considering the string of just awful performances they brought. On to orlando.


    magic number to make playoffs: 20

    • asifyouknow

      Seriously are you already counting? lmao

      • FREEJV


      • Rapsfan

        Been counting since New Year’s Day. A long time since we been in the playoff race

  • mobile

    The new ads on mobile make this almost unreadable

    • arsenalist

      Consider them gone. Readers speak, we listen.

      • Marz

        In that case, I’d love raptors playoff tickets. Thanks!


  • Tanks-a-lot

    Scoring 51 is just an A for Ross
    Gets an A+ this game

    • Tinman

      I was at the game tonight. He was all over Irving.

      • Tamberlyn Richardson

        Which is exactly why I gave him the A+, he scored 8 of the Raps first 10 points to keep them in the mix and registered Irving an afterthought whenever he guarded him. Following an All Star MVP Kyrie could’ve lit us up like last season (spot up game winning 3 over Jose anyone?). Ross’ 51 points was an amazing individual accomplishment but I’ll take a steady diet of 20 points, gritty shut down defense along with 3 steals nightly over 51 points combined with losing.

        • consmap

          I’m gonna nitpick and defend Jose, but that game winning 3 was over Alan Anderson. :)
          But yeah, Ross was spectacular on D tonight

          • Tamberlyn Richardson

            I stand correctly, thank you :-)

  • asifyouknow

    Now healthy is disappointment that Vaz has to sit there in his contract year. Wish they would of traded him..No way in hell this guy does not deserve 25 minutes between PG/SG…
    Another subject:
    Why can’t Casey tell Kyle and DeMar to DRIVE TO THE BUCKET IN THE FIRST 5 or 6 MINUTES OF THE GAME!….. Please! The 2-11 on jump shots is what gets them in the hole EVERY TIME! How hard can that be TO UNDERSTAND.
    Casey gives me a headache and stomach ache……..lol

    • robertparish00

      I was wondering the same thing about the jumpers last night. I was wondering if they were trying to hit a couple, making drives easier. But then they missed and missed and missed.

  • asifyouknow

    Congrats Canada for your women’s hockey gold?

  • NextMusicFromTokyo

    If it weren’t for his teammates missing wide open threes and a few gift wrapped lay-up opportunities Derozan could have easily finished double digits in dimes. Though his shot was off I was really impressed by his passing tonight. And JV vacuuming boards with a vengeance from the 3Q onwards was impressive. He’s always a double-double threat but this was the first time I’ve seen him stake out rebounds with such ferocity and steal a few boards that he had no business getting. Hope JV continues to rebound with this sort of fire.

  • Im not a Guest

    Raptors win
    Canada beats USA in Hockey (Men)
    and im starting to like grevis off the bench a lot, he’s killing it

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  • Guest

    Nice detail on the post-game thoughts. Thanks.

  • database_666

    hell yes on #5: Lowry is the engine, the fuel, the rigor of this team, and one of the main reasons for the success. thinking of how much he contributes both on offence and defense, i am scared to think how much of isolation play would be out there if not for Lowry’s intuitive and intelligent play. i also want to see him reigning in derozan and ross and demand moving off the ball and creating positions in which point guard will be able to deliver them ball with ease. i have been thinking more and more that Casey should experiment by starting both Lowry and Vasquez because this has been our most potent offensive combination. let’s see what decolo and any one of the other guards such as stone / buycks could do with the second unit… this could be a secret weapon nobody saw coming.

    • The Red Fury

      That only works in short spurts. And haven’t you seen stone and buycks play? These guys are far from difference makers.

      • momo

        actually i havent seen buycks play… he barely gets any minutes.

        • Steve Lam

          yep. who knows. everyone called dj augustin trash and now hes lighting it up with the bulls by getting actual play time.

    • What the


  • Louvens Remy

    Great postgame Tambi. I didn’t watch. Felt like I didn’t need too. Solid recap.

    • robertparish00

      You should watch the 3rd. 37 pts and JV played possessed.

  • The Red Fury

    I would really appreciate it if they could come out with some fire in the first half of these games against teams they are suppose to beat. Great game otherwise. Love when JV gets mad.

  • purdie

    Agree with pretty much everything said except for giving Casey credit for taking JV out after 6min. That’s what he does every game, rotates the starters out ~6-8min of the first quarter starting with JV. Regardless of how he has been playing.

  • Arm El-Ansary

    That was a great second half…seems the raptors really buy into making adjustments! That’s 30 folks!

  • AnthonyF

    I must ask the staff….. Where’s TimW? He was the #1 critic of the Raptors on the board and then became a writer and has not just stopped writing, but no longer has an opinion because the team is playing well? Heck I’m sure he could tell us these bad starts, inability to win close games where we have a chance in the last 30 seconds or OT (2-9 by my count) and that we are winning beating mediocre teams and a first round loss to Chicago or Brooklyn, the loss of Lowry will make 2013/14 moot.

    He is sorely missed…..

    • Afime Sinting

      It would be a best seller ” How we would win these close games if we sandbag and get a elite player that can win these types of games” but the thing is a new GM needs to first see what he’s got before he just starts trading away players…Now with Andrea he new that fucker had to go right off the bat, yep! no if or but about it, next was Rudy,yep! and if Calderon was sill here trade his ass too. and all of a sudden were are different team we cant tank now