Little bit of a different feel to this one. First post-LeBron game, home opener against Boston? Cavs had a lot of effort and energy. A simple late-October game in Toronto? The Cavs focus and energy were, um, lacking to say the least. The Cavs gave up too many easy baskets and they made things hard on themselves offensively by standing around and chucking threes. Night and day compared to Wednesday’s win over Boston.
Not J.J. Hickson’s finest hour. After scoring 21 points against Boston, Hickson followed it up with a 6 point, 6 rebound performance. Fouls limited Hickson’s court time to just 15 minutes, but I wouldn’t blame the refs. J.J. commits dumb fouls and he has to find ways to limit that (like not needlessly swiping at the ball). The Cavs aren’t deep enough (especially without Andy) to be able to win many games with Hickson on the bench.
The defense was not good. Cleveland’s defensive rotations were a step slow and they gave up way too many open jumpers and easy shots inside. The Raptors shot 47% from the floor and simply had better effort. Reggie Evans absolutely killed the Cavs on the boards (14 rebounds, 5 offensive) and always seemed to end up with the loose ball (Hickson needed to do more on the glass too).
The starters were, well, awful. The five starters combined for 29 points on 11-37 shooting. Ramon Session went 1-10, Jamario Moon was 1-5 and Anthony Parker went 4-11. There was too much standing around and way too many contested jumpers. Ryan Hollins, starting in place of Varejao, scored 7 points in the first half but finished the game with those same 7 points (however, I did like his effort). Again, the Cavs were without both Mo and Andy, but a disappointed effort from the starting group.
The game didn’t get out of hand until the third quarter. Toronto held a 7-10 point lead for most of the second quarter and Cleveland trailed 46-38 heading into halftime. The Toronto lead built to 13 early in the third but after some treys from Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison, the Cavs cut it to 54-48 at the 8 minute mark. Led by Linas Kleiza (13 points in the quarter), the Raptors finished the third on a 23-7 run and that was all she wrote (the Cavs “tried” to get back into it by lofting a ton of threes).
On the plus side, a whole quarter of garbage time! Cavs fans who stuck around through the fourth quarter got their first glimpses of Manny Harris and Samardo Samuels. I thought both guys played well in their first NBA action. Samuels scored 7 points on some nice post moves (as well as an alley oop from Boobie) but didn’t grab a single board in his 7 minutes. Harris scored 8 points (went 2-2 from downtown) and looked extremely fast with the basketball. Harris looked so good that I wondered why he didn’t spell Sessions earlier.
First back-to-back of the year. The Cavs can wash the taste of this game from their collective mouthes with a win over the Kings Saturday night in Cleveland. I’m going to be interested to see how the Cavs respond and bounce back from this loss. With Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings aren’t a team the Cavs can look past (not that this Cavs team should be looking past anyone).