Raptors Keep Winning, but Still Cannot Solve Cavs
As the Raptors took on the defending champs one last time on their home floor on Monday night, the Raptors again were unable to solve LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. With a 116-112 loss, the Raptor six game win streak became a thing of the past, and now, the Raptors look to have a quick turnaround as they end their home stretch playing host to the Minnesota Timberwolves before heading south of the border to take on the Boston Celtics.
After beating the Rockets and Bucks, everything continued to go according to plan albeit with a rather light schedule, nothing should have really gone wrong at all. The Raptors beat down on the Philadelphia Sixers, followed that up with a win against an injury-depleted Memphis Grizzlies team, took out the young, injury-riddled Lakers, and finally blew out the Atlanta Hawks, setting a franchise record for largest margin of victory in the process.
Then the big challenge came as the Cavaliers came to town and after laying the hammer down on the Hawks, the Raptors came out flat, finding no answer for James and the Cavs. LeBron Put up 34-points, while Kevin Love added 28-and-14 and really, containing the Cleveland stretch bigs has been the problem for the Raptors ever since the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Raptors have built quite a sample size with the Cavs, meeting nine times since last years playoffs and the trend becomes very visible – the Cavs are just one big mismatch. Not because LeBron is around although it helps, but because the Raptors are not capable or at least not showing the ability to adjust to the Cavalier floor-stretching, and quick and fluid ball movement.
Jonas Valanciunas looks lost when dealing with the Cavalier front line, and Pascal Siakam was just getting abused all night long by Love. When Love comes out of the game, Channing Frye enters and the problems the Raptors face seemingly never end.
It’s easy to be happy with where the Raptors currently sit. They are occupying the two-seed in the east, and are just a game away from the Cavs. They have also won six of their last seven, but damn do the Raptors just need that big win against an elite club. It has not come against the Cavs, has not come against the Clippers or Warriors – it has to come from somewhere.
There are still a couple games remaining against the San Antonio Spurs. Hint, hint.
That being said, the Raptors have got to find a way to take down the Cavaliers. Assuming Jared Sullinger comes back healthy, he adds another physical big to the equation, but the Raptors are still left without the prototypical stretch-four to cause match up problems for the likes of a Tristan Thompson.
Maybe the Raptors can take a look at the trade market. They do have assets that could bring in a valuable big man, who can just stand out on the perimeter and throw up three-pointers with accuracy. Maybe a Danilo Gallinari or an Ersan Ilyasova?
As explosive as the Raptor offence has been of late, when the playoffs roll in, everything is dependent on match ups, and a team that can outmatch the other will always win. The Raptors have to create more layers to their offence and it starts with acquiring some more shooting.
Good thing there is still loads of time remaining and all the Raptors can do in the meantime is work on being better while working on securing a playoff spot on the opposite side of the bracket from the Cavs.
As they are set to finish their six-game home stand, the Raptors will continue to see an easy schedule which will include the Bucks at home, Philly, Atlanta, Orlando and Brooklyn.
Maybe it’s time for yet another win-streak?