Raptors Deliver Harsh Dose of Reality to Cavaliers, Cleveland Fans

It’s an entirely new feeling for Cleveland basketball fans. Overjoyed by the team’s surprise victory Wednesday night over the Boston Celtics, the Cavalier faithful fell right back down following a 101-81 loss to the Toronto Raptors Friday night.

In the start of what could be many painful games on the road, Toronto conquered the helpless Cavs in nearly every single facet of the game. Most notably, the absence of both Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao left Cleveland without two of their top starters and most consistent performers. Filling in Mo’s spot, new point guard Ramon Sessions struggled to consistently set up the offense, and although the Raptors are also projected to be one of the worst team’s in the Eastern Conference, they easily took advantage in front of the home court advantage.

As our very own TD mentioned, this was just had the feel of an ugly game from the start. Just take a look at the starting lineup eventually fielded by Cavs head coach Byron Scott:

Ramon Sessions, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, J.J. Hickson, Ryan Hollins

Not a single player in that bunch has ever been consistently relied upon to produce offense for any NBA team, let alone one that is so used to perfection on the road. When you also consider that Samardo Samuels, Manny Harris and Joey Graham all also saw minutes, you can start to see how this was essentially just a rotation practice for Scott’s future plans.

Looking specifically at the game, the Raptors owned the Cavs on the board, produced offense essentially whenever they needed to, stopped any single Cleveland player from taking over and took control right at the start of the second half. When your leading scorer (Antawn Jamison) only has 13 points with two rebounds and two assists on nine shots off the bunch against this inconsistent Toronto team, you know that you are going to be in trouble.

Looking on down the line, the Raptors out-rebounded Cleveland 46-33, out-assisted them 24-15, shot 9.5% better from field goals and had five players with at least 13 points on the night. Rick pointed this out last night and so have many commentators, but it seems that many teams that used to be bullied by Cleveland over the past several years may just be waiting at the opportunity to conquer them this season.

Hollins helped in his first Cleveland start, but it’s unlikely Scott will be forced into this type of a situation any time soon. As Scott tweeted after the game, the team will need both Mo and Andy to play tonight to hopefully improve to 2-1, eliminating any doubt of a repeat performance. One of the leading culprits for the inefficiency and lack of offense was the new guard Sessions, who finished with only four points and four assists with five turnovers on 1-for-10 shooting.

For Cavalier fans, it is clear that this team was not going 82-0 throughout the 2010-2011 season. That’s the usual cliche statement to make after any first loss by an NBA team, but the fact of the matter is that this new Cleveland team will suffer through games like this nearly every week or two. Considering the absence of both Mo and Andy, the unusual high from the Boston win, pathetic rebounding and lack of any offensive flow, this was not too much of a surprise outcome at all.

Moving forward, this probably re-assures fans and the media that those 25-35 win estimates are the most likely for this year’s team. Not trying to many vague assumptions based on one ugly loss, but these new Cavaliers will certainly not be beating teams like Boston like they did the other night with any regularity. The next four opponents are generally favorable as well in Sacramento, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington, so it will be interesting to see how the squad recovers quickly.

Photo above via AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese

  • Stinkfist

    someone had a fantastic night leaving him with a very positive outlook

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Jacob Rosen

    Hard to really find much good in that game last night, eh? The Raptors without Bosh are just awful.. It was pretty embarrassing.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    Things aren’t going to get much easier tonight – Evans, Cousins, Garcia, Landry and Udrih will run just as much. Maybe we even get a D-Block sighting!?

  • christopher

    turnovers, no Mo and no Andy killed us last night. it’s a pretty big wakeup call the lack of depth on this team as compared to the previous years. you gotta wonder is Scott looks down the bench last night and says to himself…”really?”

    i can remember a stretch in the 2nd quarter where we had to have turned the ball over in sloppy passing at least 5 times in a row.

    embarrased is the word for the performance for sure. My only comfort is that Byron Scott will definitely let his players know they should be embarrased versus Mike Brown which would have no idea how to pick up the pieces.

  • http://www.adapterdesign.com AdapterDesign

    On the bright side, last year at this point, we lost to the Raptors by about 10 after losing to the Celtics the game before.

  • stin4u

    I didn’t get to watch much of this game but what I did see it looked like the lack of size in the middle really killed them last night….not to mention shooting was a huge problem for some reason. Hopefully this is the absolutely lowest point we’ll see this team perform at this year.

  • Swirsky’s Soldier

    “The Raptors without Bosh are just awful”

    so where does that leave Cleveland without Lebron…. whats worse than awful?

  • boogeyman

    Game 2 was more of what I expect throughout the season. The opening night win over the Celtics will be the rarity. The one thing I like is Byron Scott’s coaching. I like seeing emotion out of a head coach and then reading that he wasn’t happy with the effort. He shouldn’t have been. I still say Mike Brown will never receive enough of the blame for the Cavaliers shortcomings the last few seasons. Most if not all the blame will always fall on you know who but I’m sorry the head coach was just as complicate if not more but that’s just my opinion.

  • Christopher

    @ boogey

    I don’t agree with you much but I can say that Mike Brown was a definite enabler to the poor offense, in game and after game adjustments that need to happen with any NBA team.

    In Byron I trust.

  • JM

    agree with boogey too. All the talent we had on the roster and yet the team looked lost on offense.