The Cleveland Cavaliers hope to record a better start against the Toronto Raptors on Monday in Tampa than they last time the two teams met.
It should not be too hard.
The Raptors scored a franchise-record 87 first-half points on the way to a 135-115 victory at Cleveland on April 10. Gary Trent Jr. scored a career-best 44 points in the win.
Despite playing without Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry, the Raptors led 47-26 after one quarter and were up 84-46 late in the second quarter.
“We just didn’t have any grit,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the game. “I thought we let them do what they wanted to do. They were beating us up one-on-one.”
The Cavaliers won the first game between the teams, a 116-105 decision at home on March 21. Monday’s contest will be the final regular-season meeting between the teams.
The Cavaliers (21-39) will be completing a back-to-back after losing 119-110 to the host Washington Wizards on Sunday night. The Cavaliers, who played without their top scorer Collin Sexton (concussion), were outscored 11-2 to end the game.
Darius Garland had 28 points and nine assists for Cleveland. Jarrett Allen had a career-high 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
The Raptors (25-35) saw their four-game winning streak stopped Saturday with a 120-103 loss to the host New York Knicks, who won their ninth straight.
“I thought we were playing pretty well,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “It’s just every time I looked up, we were down eight or 10. I even said that once to (assistant coach Adrian Griffin) in the first half. I was like: ‘God, we’re down eight. It feels like we’re doing everything we’re supposed to be doing and we’re still down eight.’ I don’t know how many (shots) they made in the second half, but I think they made at least five, if not six, in the first half with the shot clock expiring.”
OG Anunoby and VanVleet each scored 27 points for Toronto. Siakam had 26, but Lowry was held to four points on 1-of-10 shooting from the floor.
Bickerstaff would like Garland, and the team generally, to shoot more from 3-point range.
“There’s so many ways he can get it,” Bickerstaff said of Garland. “He can catch and shoot. He can handle it and create his own 3s. And then he can come off screens and catch and shoot as well. There’s more opportunities for him there. And we’d like to keep pushing the envelope.”
Garland was 4-for-4 on 3-point attempts against the Bulls. He made 2 of 5 from beyond the arc while scoring 27 points in the loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday and 4 of 8 from 3-point range Sunday.
“I’d be happy to get between eight to 10 of them a night,” Bickerstaff said. “I think he’s got the ball in his hands enough. But it’s again, breaking a comfort level. He is a heady, solid basketball player. And sometimes, shooting that many 3s feels like a lot.”
–Field Level Media