Game notes:

  1. How about Kyle Lowry putting the whole team on his back against LeBron James and the freaking Cleveland Cavaliers. It goes without saying that the Raptors would have been blown out had it not been for Lowry, and now he’s had his three best games of the year against the Cavaliers (twice), and the Warriors.
    1. 41-3-7-4, +8 in L vs. GSW (5/12/15)
    2. 27-3-6-4, +10 in W vs. CLE (25/11/15)
    3. 43-5-9-4, +11 in W vs. CLE (tonight)
  2. The Cavaliers’ guards couldn’t check Lowry on the high screen. One flat screen from Valanciunas or Biyombo, and it was over. Delly, Shumpert, Irving – it didn’t matter. Lowry either got to the cup, or found his centers open on the roll.
  3. About Lowry’s game winner: Not the most innovative play call, but why bother? Make sure it’s in Lowry’s hands, and that he won’t be doubled. The Raptors went 1-4 with everyone on the baseline, and Patterson had half a mind of screening with ~8 seconds left, but decided against drawing LeBron to the ball. Instead, Lowry cooks.
  4. About the most important stop of the game: The Cavaliers had the ball with 37 seconds left, and they went to the pick-and-roll with James. The Raptors scrambled nicely to force the pass to the corners, but a great rotation by Biyombo smothered Love. The Cavs swung it, and James was briefly open on the dunk spot after the scramble, but he couldn’t get the shot off because Patterson made the rotation to body up James. Instead they got a contested missed three from JR.
  5. Why is Patrick Patterson a plus-minus god? That’s why. His defense was incredible. Very positive sign for a potential playoff matchup, knowing that Patterson has the quicks to stay with James on switches.
  6. It would have been nice to have DeMarre Carroll back for a game like this. Having another body to throw at LeBron would be ideal.
  7. All things considered, it was a great defensive performance from the Raptors, but some worrying signs. All the double teams sent LeBron’s way led to a myriad of open threes for the Cavaliers. It’s a pick-your-poison type scenario.
  8. What the hell was Anthony Bennett doing in this game? Sure, there was early foul trouble with DeRozan, and the Raptors were short on big wings, but goddamn he cannot ever see the light of day unless it’s garbage time.
  9. I’ve long been a fan of Kyrie Irving’s game, but he was horrible. All the aesthetics in the world don’t mean shit if he can’t get open. Struggled to get to the hoop and was absolutely terrible on defense.
  10. The Raptors now sit 2 games back of first and they hold the tiebreaker. Even if they don’t finish on top of the East, they’re still putting pressure on the Cavs to play James heavy minutes. That’s a win.
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