“We were in control for most of that game,” Jakob Poeltl said postgame.
The Raptors fumbled away a chance to go over .500 for the first time since their season opener. They led by 10 at halftime but were outscored 63-50 in the second half despite Donovan Mitchell being held to 10 points on 4-17 shooting. Poeltl also posted season-highs in points and rebounds (18 pts, 13 reb).
So what went wrong?
Strus on the Loose
Max Strus only scored in one quarter. The problem was he put up 20 in the third, matching the Raptors all by himself. Strus initially got hot with two easy transition baskets to begin the frame, forcing a timeout from Darko Rajakovic. He then beat Malachi Flynn on a backdoor cut and the floodgates opened for his three point shot.
The defence could have been tighter on a couple of screens that Strus came off of. He made four threes in the third and also had 11 rebounds and five assists in the game.
X-Factor: Tristan Thompson
What year is it?
Thompson spent most of last season out of the league, signing with the Lakers late in the year. He returned to Cleveland in the offseason and hurt the Raptors with four offensive rebounds in only eight minutes. The Cavs scored nine second chance points from Thompson’s efforts alone, breaking out to a nine point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Scottie Barnes vs Darius Garland
Scottie has been having an All-Defensive season so far but this matchup wasn’t in his comfort zone.
Barnes guarded Garland for much of the game, especially early on. His length couldn’t match Garland’s quickness, as Garland’s shifty style kept getting by Scottie for baskets. This was the case again with the Raptors down two with under 30 seconds left.
An argument could have been made to make this Dennis Schroder’s matchup. Schroder spent most of the night on Strus, while Anunoby successfully took care of Mitchell. Garland did commit five turnovers, but finished with 24 points and eight assists.
Darko has been great drawing up stuff out of timeouts. However the play for Gary Trent Jr. with Toronto down three in the final seconds didn’t work.
Trent came off screens to receive a pass from Schroder. His momentum took him to the corner with Jarrett Allen all over him. As a result, Trent tried to pivot to find space and ended up stepping out of bounds. Cleveland ran out the clock afterwards.
- The Raptors shot 23 more free throws but went 20-29. They’re shooting 72.7 from the line this season, third worst in the league. This is a steep drop off from their 78.4 percent clip last season.
- The Scottie plus bench minutes didn’t work in the first half. Cleveland turned a three point deficit into a six point lead in about four minutes. Using a second starter in transitional lineups would probably help.
Up Next: The Raptors go to Brooklyn, then travel home for Phoenix on a back-to-back.