A number of weeks after shaking their Recreation 1 curse in a win over the Washington Wizards, the Toronto Raptors have been in improbable possession to start their second spherical sequence in opposition to the Cleveland Cavaliers on a constructive word. Then, the “previous Raptors” emerged, with a litany of missed alternatives within the second half and, after 53 minutes of recreation time, Toronto succumbed to LeBron James and firm in a 113-112 loss that swung home-court benefit again to the three-time defending Jap Convention champions.
A lot of the primary half favored the house crew, particularly throughout the confines of the opening quarter. Toronto held a 14-point lead after 12 minutes and the Raptors knocked down 62 p.c of their photographs, together with 4 three-pointers. In truth, the non-LeBron members of the Cavaliers scuffled to the tune of a Four-for-18 mark within the first quarter and, briefly, the Raptors seemed to be in full management.
In fact, that early success proved too good to be true, because the Cavs woke up within the second interval and remained intently engaged all through the night. After taking pictures 64 p.c within the second quarter (aided by 11 factors every from J.R. Smith and Jeff Inexperienced), the Cavs did cool within the third quarter. The Raptors threatened to tug away by taking a 13-point lead within the center phases of the interval, however from there, it was an train in gradual, draining peril.
The Cavs ultimately chased the Raptors down within the fourth quarter and Toronto’s offense imploded in very acquainted vogue. The Raptors linked on solely 5 of their 24 photographs within the fourth quarter. Then, with a possibility to place the sport away in regulation, Toronto got here up fully empty in bumbling vogue.
All instructed, the Raptors’ chilly spell price them a possibility to win the sport within the first 48 minutes.
From there, the extra time interval wasn’t one for the spotlight reels on both aspect, although an early three from Smith proved to be pivotal, albeit in glacial vogue.
After a hideous offensive possession that featured a heave from James that failed to attract rim, the Raptors (once more) had an opportunity to emerge victorious and, this time, it was Fred VanVleet with the chance to seal it. Nonetheless, his long-range try went begging.
In fact, the play of James was the largest storyline on the Cleveland aspect, even on an evening that featured 20 factors from Smith, 19 factors from Kyle Korver and 16 factors (on 4 discipline purpose makes an attempt) from Inexperienced. The sport’s finest participant was +5 in his 47 minutes of motion and James completed the night with 26 factors, 13 assists, 11 rebounds and loads of highlight-worthy moments.
Past that, this will likely be a recreation that requires introspection on the aspect of the Raptors. Except for the sideshow of Drake and Kendrick Perkins exchanging phrases on the ground, positivity is hard to return by for Toronto and the play of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry left loads to be desired within the second half. On one hand, it will be simple to elucidate away the missed alternatives and a recreation that the Raptors managed a lot of the method.
On the opposite, it’s one more reminder of the franchise’s playoff missteps and, with LeBron James on the opposite aspect and no home-court benefit the remainder of the way in which, it could possibly be an uphill battle for the East’s No. 1 seed.
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