The More Things Change

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Toronto Raptors Drop Game 1 to Cleveland Cavaliers in Heartbreaker

For all the talk about how the Toronto Raptors have changed their ways this season, Game 1 of their second-round match up had a familiar outcome: A loss to Cleveland.

Toronto jumped out to an early lead. Behind 11 points from DeMar DeRozan and eight from Kyle Lowry, they led 33-19 after the first quarter, a lead they would not relinquish until late in the game.

The Cavaliers caught fire in the second frame, shooting a scorching 14-22. Lebron James dished five assists in the 2nd alone, and Jeff Green and J.R. Smith each added 11 points, as the Cavs whittled the Toronto lead down to three.

Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas took over in the third quarter, leading Toronto to an 87-82 lead at the close of the quarter. Valanciunas added 13 points and five rebounds in the third frame, as Cleveland had no answer for the Lithuanian’s post game. However, Valanciunas would struggle in the 4th, missing many close-range shots, and shooting 1-7 in the quarter.

JV’s frustrating fourth quarter was emblematic of Toronto as a whole. The team could not hit a shot in the final frame, shooting 5-24, a stretch of futility capped off by four consecutive missed potential game-winners during a frantic sequence at the end of regulation.

The Raptors were unable to recover in overtime, as Fred VanVleet missed a game-winner with 3.4 seconds remaining.

“We’re a better team. We just didn’t make the shots,” Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey said after this game-one loss. “I know it sounds simplistic.”

DeRozan led the Raptors with 22 points, while Lowry added 18, although both faltered in the fourth quarter.

James played nearly the entire game (47 minutes), and led the Cavs with 26 points, and added 13 assists and 11 rebounds for a triple-double.

“I think considering the circumstances, we definitely stole one,” Cavs Head Coach Ty Lue said. “I don’t think we played our best game and they know that too. We didn’t play well, but to beat a good team like Toronto on their home floor, it does feel like we stole one.”

The Raptors can say that they didn’t make Lebron’s night easy, as James shot 12-30, including 1-8 from three. However, he received help from his supporting cast, a crucial difference between tonight and Cleveland’s first-round series against Indiana. Kyle Korver and Smith were money from long-range, finishing with five-threes and 19 points, and five-threes and 20 points, respectively. If Cleveland’s role players continue to step up and make shots, Toronto, and the rest of the Eastern Conference, is in trouble.

The Raptors will attempt to rebound from their Game 1 loss on Thursday, when they host Cleveland at 6:00 PM ET.

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