Cleveland Oh. – On a night where Donavan Mitchell shot the ball poorly, the Cavs got contributions from the rest of the team and won, 105- 102 over the Raptors.
The Cavs got contributions from all five starters as Darius Garland led the way with 24 points and 8 assist. Max Strus finished with 20 points (all of which came in the third quarter) and 11 rebounds. While Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley finished with 18 and 12, respectively. All that to cover for Donavan Mitchell shooting 4-17 and scoring 10 points.
The Cavs came out in the first half and were “searching” according to coach JB Bickerstaff. Down 10 at halftime, and having only scored 42 points, the Cavs came out in the third and scored 32 points and tightened their defense, holding the raptors to just 20 in the third. Strus, as mentioned, scored all of his 20 points in the third.
While he didn’t shoot well, Mitchell was able to assist and rebound for the Cavs as he saw Strus and Garland had it going. The real hero of the night was Tristan Thompson. The second stint with the Cavs, Thompson played 7 minutes at the end of the third and early in the fourth and turned the game from a tie game dog fight to a Cavs lead. His 7 minutes were the most productive minutes as he scored 4 points and grabbed 4 rebounds. All offensive. In the beginning of the fourth, the first possession, Thompson grabbed an offensive rebound and got it to Garland for a layup. Next play down, he grabbed an offensive rebound and got it to Strus for a three.
Hustle plays are contagious. When he was subbed out and Allen came back in, Allen immediately got an offensive rebound for a score. Those kinds of winning plays are why the Cavs felt it was necessary to bring Thompson back to the organization. The level of toughness and intensity Thompson brings is invaluable.
All in all, this was a gutsy win for the Cavs. They showed the ability to pick up their star when he wasn’t shooting well, but they also showed toughness in bouncing back from a tough loss to the Lakers. Playing on a back-to-back, the Cavs gutted out a win against the pesky Raptors.
They look to be more rested and come out strong when they take on the Hawks at home on Tuesday in the In Season Play In Tournament. The Cavs need to win the game Tuesday to have any chance at being the wild card and potentially going to Vegas. But more importantly, the Cavs need to beat the Hawks. The Cavs have lost the last two games to the Hawks dating back to last season. Even If the Cavs can’t make it to the next phase of the tournament, they want to start building good habits and beating good opponents. The Hawks present that opportunity. The Cavs got the first test beating the Raptors, now they need to continue and beat the Hawks.
NEO Sports Insiders Newsletter
Sign up to receive our NEOSI newsletter, and keep up to date with all the latest Cleveland sports news.