Raptors 75, Cavaliers 78 (OT) | Box Score
It’s always difficult to tell how a game like this one may play out. At the end of a very long 10 days in Las Vegas and coming off of a disappointing loss Thursday, the Toronto Raptors’ Summer League team could have been expected to come out a little flat. Conversely, they desperately wanted to win the championship here, and an angry group of gamers could have just as easily come out looking for a blood against a Cleveland Cavaliers team with a little less in the way of NBA talent. All of the games here are the sort of crapshoot that only Vegas can appreciate, but a mandatory fifth game on the consolation side of things carries with it an especially potent air of randomness.
Adding to that uncertainty was the decision to sit all four players on their summer roster who are already on NBA deals. With the game holding no tangible meaning, the Raptors wanted a longer look at some of the other players here with them and didn’t want to risk injury to a quartet of players who could conceivably have a role for the big club at some point this season by playing them a fifth game in eight days. It was a reasonable decision, though it contributed even further to the cloud of futility around the evening.
To call the game a little sloppy would probably be kind. Does a combined 13 first-quarter turnovers describe it better? The early stages included a bushel of miscues (including a backcourt violation), a fair number of fouls, and poor Cole Huff having to rotate over to grab 905 alumni Edy Tavares. As his near-tournament-leading usage rate may have betrayed, the game started out with some Kennedy Meeks on offense, including a made three out of the gate and a rimmed-out attempt shortly after, and Will Sheehey did his best to play the role of experienced leader of the rag-tag offense. Things came slowly, though, and only a Jordan Loyd three at the end of the frame kept things within five.
Despite seven absences, the Raptors still ran deep, and the second quarter brought some run for what would have been the fourth unit at some point during practices. That sounds a certain way, but it really was kind of fun to see these fringier or very long-term pieces get an opportunity in front of the smattering of league personnel that remained. And since both sides did the same – we see you, Sam Cassell Jr. – things remained close, with the game settling in for a much better flow than early on. It even seemed to give the Raptors a little boost, and as starters filtered back in, Toronto found themselves in a tie game, and then with a two-point lead at the break.
It was more Meeks and Sheehey in the third, and the pair would wind up combining to take __ shots in the game, somewhat of a necessity. Meeks even had some decent defense opposite Tavares, at least preventing him from establishing low and making things difficult. Troy Caupain found a little groove, too, drilling a three and then cutting for a Meeks dish to put the Raptors up five. (The bench for defensive possessions was pretty funny at this point, clapping and roaring in unison as the clock wore on.) Toronto held that lead through the bulk of the quarter, even pushing it to seven at one point.
We now interrupt this recap to bring you some ankle-breaking, courtesy of Loyd on El Hijo de Cassell:
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) July 15, 2017
Maybe that was a bit of a monkey’s paw highlight, because the Cavaliers stormed back, not only erasing Toronto’s lead but taking one of their own midway through the fourth. It became a back-and-forth from there, with a sweet finger-roll from Meeks putting the Raptors in control. Cleveland answered and then Meeks missed a three, but on the way back down, Meeks managed to turn away a Tavares attempt. A huge charge draw shortly after gave Toronto a chance to extend the lead beyond one (after they successfully killed seven seconds), and Loyd hit a pair to go up three with 10 seconds to play. The Cavs answered right back out of a timeout with an Andrew White triple, with an enormous amount of consolation-bracket summer-league overtime dread setting in.
So, yeah. On top of everything else, this mostly meaningless game without most of the key players went to overtime. Paul Watson had a great couple of seconds with a driving baseline layup and then a blocked shot at the rim, but Caupain turned the ball over, Loyd missed a three, and it was time to play the fouling game again with the roles reversed. A great defensive possession from Cleveland lead to a missed three, and the Raptors couldn’t convert on a second attempt on an inbounds play. Mercifully, it ended there, though it’s a little disappointing to end here on a loss given how well these unfamiliar pieces pulled together in this one.
(Apologies for the relative brevity and lack of post-game quotes here, but I had to bolt for a red-eye.)
- The Raptors opted to sit out Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl, and Alfonzo McKinnie. With four games in a week already and the game mostly meaningless, it was a means of avoiding injury and giving additional run to the guys they need a longer look at.
- OG Anunoby (knee), Malcolm Miller (ankle), and Goodluck Okonoboh (knee) were sidelined once again.
- Kennedy Meeks was 8-of-14 for 18 points with nine rebounds and three assists, easily Toronto’s best player on the night. Jordan Loyd had another nice game in support with 13 points, though he missed all four of his threes, and Jalen Reynolds provided a nice 12-and-6 boost with three blocks off the bench.
- Old friend Edy Tavares was the only notable piece playing for the Cavaliers. The reigning D-League Defensive Player of the Year has had a pretty quiet tournament, but it never takes long to understand the draw, anyway. He had 10 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks here. He’s among the nicer people around, too. T.J. Williams had a nice game for the Cavs, as well, scoring 21 points.
- It was a good day for Canadians here. I haven’t been doing regular updates in this space, but Dylan Ennis had a monster game for the Warriors (he was shaky the rest of the tournament but great in the Orlando Summer League), and Brady Heslip caught fire over Chicago’s final two games (42 points, 12-of-23 on threes). Dillon Brooks had a nice tournament for Memphis, too. My strategy for the last eight days included a lot of scoping out the Canadians here – my eyes will never forgive me for seeing this much of the summer Bulls .
- See you next summer, Vegas.