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Quick Reaction

Quick Reaction: Cavaliers 99, Raptors 133

Is there a grade higher than A+?

Cleveland 99 Final
Box Score
133 Toronto

A-
O. Anunoby27 MIN, 7 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 2-8 FG, 1-6 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 13 +/-

OG was probably the Raptor who had the toughest night. But he was also tasked with guarding LeBron the majority of the time he was on the floor, so can you blame him? And, honestly, for a rookie guarding one of the top five greatest players ever, he did a really good job. He still struggled from three and the Cavs left him wide open, but he made them pay a few times. He’ll get his rhythm back.

A
C. Miles19 MIN, 16 PTS, 5 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 6-12 FG, 4-7 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 8 +/-

He came, he saw, he hit some threes. Solid.

A+
J. Valanciunas19 MIN, 15 PTS, 18 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 6-9 FG, 0-1 3FG, 3-4 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, 7 +/-

There was no one—and I mean no one!—on Cleveland’s roster who had a shot of stopping Valanciunas in the paint tonight. The Cavs couldn’t keep him boxed out, and he snared seemingly every loose rebound while he was on the floor, easily popping it back up and into the hoop each time. It was a gorgeous sight. Unfortunately, he was tagged with a few bogus foul calls, but Poeltl handled his time all right.

A+
D. Wright18 MIN, 6 PTS, 2 REB, 4 AST, 0 STL, 3-9 FG, 0-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 BLK, 1 TO, 5 +/-

SPOILER: Have you seen IT? You know the scene where Pennywise comes out of the projector screen like a gigantic clownish squid-monster with his huge arms and unceasing canned laughter? I’m just assuming that’s what Thomas saw every time he looked at Wright tonight.

A+
D. DeRozan29 MIN, 13 PTS, 3 REB, 8 AST, 0 STL, 5-13 FG, 3-5 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 15 +/-

DeRozan didn’t score a lot tonight, and when he did it came in little bunches, but the Raptors didn’t need him to drop 25 tonight. And the best part? He knew it. Instead of looking for his shot and forcing things, DeRozan continued his stellar season-long display of making intelligent and quick passes. If tonight’s game was a symphony, it was DeMar who was the orchestrator.

A-
N. Powell27 MIN, 14 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST, 0 STL, 6-15 FG, 2-5 3FG, 0-1 FT, 1 BLK, 3 TO, 23 +/-

Norm. Lives! This might just be the game Powell needs to get back on track. Cleveland’s defense was so bad that there wasn’t any of the pressure Norm usually feels around the basket to force him into missing, leaving him hopefully with increased confidence. He also made some big threes, which blissfully opened up the floor for his teammates. Maybe Norm just needs to play in big games?

A+
J. Poeltl26 MIN, 12 PTS, 12 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 5-8 FG, 0-0 3FG, 2-3 FT, 3 BLK, 2 TO, 29 +/-

Whenever Valanciunas went out, Poeltl came in, and the Cavs looked at him and sighed in despair. Poeltl was everywhere tonight on the boards, driving into the paint when he felt like it, and had some incredible blocks coming from terrific help defense. His mobility was exceptionally advantageous in this game—it might be his best performance of the season.

A+
P. Siakam24 MIN, 16 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 7-10 FG, 0-3 3FG, 2-3 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 24 +/-

The moment Siakam blew by Kevin Love on the perimeter and jammed home a dunk that changed the rotation of the earth (somebody check on Kyrie Irving) was the moment I stood up at home and let loose a guttural war cry. I woke up half of my house. Siakam’s energy, hustle, and relentlessness were too much for Cleveland tonight. He was just another weapon they didn’t see coming.

A+
F. VanVleet24 MIN, 22 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 8-11 FG, 6-8 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 28 +/-

Read this in my best Rihanna voice: “This man was on fiiiiiiiiiiiire!” VanVleet was out for blood tonight, drilling every shot he took on the big stage. He was so locked in he went for a career-high in points, providing a monster kick off the bench and just torching Thomas and anyone else the Cavs put in front of him. Man, IT is really gonna have nightmares about this game.

A+
L. Brown19 MIN, 6 PTS, 0 REB, 5 AST, 0 STL, 3-8 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 19 +/-

Hey, major props to Brown. This wasn’t the first game he played today—Brown was also in the G League Showcase, playing for the Raptors 905. He dropped 24 points and played 34 minutes in that game. And then to come into this, one of the biggest games of the regular season for Toronto, and play solid defense and make smart decisions with the ball? I just … can I shake his hand?

A+
Dwane Casey

Not much to say here. His dudes were en fuego. Good game, coach!

Things We Saw

  1. The Raptors absolutely crushed the Cavs on the interior tonight. They won the battle on the boards 63–35, and both Valanciunas and Poeltl made the entire Cleveland roster look Isaiah Thomas-sized. Tristan Thompson was the closest the Cavs had to someone putting up a fight, but that only lasted for a couple minutes. But, I mean, when Dwyane Wade is your best rim protector, what can you expect?
  2. I dunno who started this narrative of there being LeBron “Stoppers,” but it needs to die. LeBron had 26 points on 56.3 per cent shooting, and looked mostly disinterested and annoyed after the opening five minutes. You just don’t stop great players.
  3. This is the first time this season we’ve seen a perfect game. Everyone was rocking tonight in one way or another. Toronto finished with an offensive rating of 134.2 and, even more surprising, a defensive rating of 99.9. The 133 points they mustered was the most in a non-overtime game in franchise history. Just insane. As for the Cavs, well, I haven’t seen so many open lanes since my trip to the desert highways of Nevada.
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