Don’t Mess with Serge

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Don't Mess with Serge

Toronto Raptors Suffer Costly Loss to Old Rivals, Ibaka gets Suspended

It was an ugly night in Cleveland. Not only were the Raptors embarrassed in a 126-101 loss to the 17-50 Cavaliers, but the bigger story was Serge Ibaka and Marquese Chriss trading haymakers at the end of the third quarter.

The scenes were ugly, as it appeared Chriss had some words for Ibaka that triggered him and led to the altercation. Both players were obviously assessed technical fouls and ejected from the game.

It will be interesting to see how the league responds to last night’s brawl. Considering the fact that Ibaka is a ‘repeat offender’, Ibaka received a three game suspension, while Chriss received a one game ban. This is significant, as the Raptors lack depth at the center position and are mired in a playoff race.

Back to the game itself, the Raptors continued their concerning trend of alternating between looking like a well-oiled dominant team to looking like a team struggling to find motivation and consistency.

This should’ve, for all intents and purposes, been an easy win for the Raptors, against a team who are doing everything they can to earn a high lottery pick. Instead, they came into Cleveland with zero energy, and the Cavs took advantage.

Marc Gasol got the start and looked like an awkward fit with the starting unit, finishing with a meager two points on 1 of 6 shooting in 22 minutes. The Raptors primarily used Gasol on the block in post-ups, instead of allowing him to facilitate in the high post, severely limiting his effectiveness.  The Spaniard has yet to find his groove, averaging less than nine points per game in his twelve appearances thus far with the Raptors.

Now with Ibaka out indefinitely and Gasol as the only viable option at centre, he will need to raise his level of play, otherwise the Raptors could risk the possibility of falling further behind the Bucks for the top seed and home advantage in the East.

Ultimately, there wasn’t much positive to take away from last night’s game. The defence, in particular, was dreadful. The Cavs rank 29thin field goal percentage and scoring, yet managed to put up 126 points on the Raptors porous defence.

Nick Nurse probably summarized last night pretty well: “Give them credit, it didn’t seem like our energy was where their’s was. Obviously we’re coming off a game where we played unbelievably well and didn’t come in ready to play tonight,” he said.

Was it simply a case of the Raptors coming in flat and unmotivated on the second night of a back-to-back? Probably; but with fourteen games remaining until the playoffs, this team really needs to find some consistency and stability to their play.

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