Game No. 56: Cavaliers 84, Raptors 80

The Raptors had a legit chance to take a four game winning streak into Oklahoma City this Sunday, but instead, they used their favourable matchup with the Cavaliers to start what could be a lengthy losing streak (check their upcoming schedule).

The Raps controlled this snooze fest for three quarters, but put together one of their worst fourth quarters of the season to throw what looked like a surefire win away. If you’re a TankNation subscriber, I guess this loss makes up for the unexpected win in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Now here are some thoughts on the game:

1- I know now that we’re more than three months and 56 games into the season, a lot of people are getting sick of all the “tank” talk. But come on, did you see the starting lineups for this game? Let me throw some names at you: Donald Sloan, Manny Harris, Alan Anderson, Ben Uzoh. For various reasons, those four guys all started on Friday night. With all due respect to those players, this game could have passed for an episode of Greatest Tank Battles.

2- Aside from the low talent level in the ball game, the game itself was an absolute dud. There was no energy, no flow, an inconsistent effort, and the two teams combined to shoot an atrocious 56-of-146 from the field. Credit the 16,565 in attendance for manufacturing their own excitement the few times the Raptors gave them even an inkling to cheer for, but in all honesty, they would have been forgiven if they up and left midway through. It’s not like they were going to get their money’s worth from the game itself anyway. Byron Scott’s ejection in the second quarter was by far the most exciting couple of minutes all night.

3- I mentioned above that Alan Anderson started at small forward again, marking the second straight start for the 10-day man (Anderson and Uzoh were each given a second 10-day contract on Friday). James Johnson, on the other hand, was a DNP-Coach’s Decision for the second straight game. We know an “internal” matter caused Johnson’s benching on Wednesday, but we’ve all been led to believe the issue between James and Dwane Casey is a minor one, so it was definitely surprising to see Johnson riding the pine for 48 minutes again. Whether or not the small forward sees the floor on Sunday in OKC is now the definite storyline of that game from a Raptors’ perspective.

4- Another Raptor who seems to be in Dwane Casey’s dog house is Ed Davis. I’ve generally agreed with how Casey has allocated minutes this season, but I’m a bit puzzled by the treatment of Davis. Don’t get me wrong, Ed’s been a disappointment in his sophomore season, but in the few instances he has put a good string of games together, he doesn’t really seem to get rewarded with extra minutes. Davis pulled down an impressive 14 rebounds in just 25 minutes on Wednesday in Philly, and was one of the few players on the court bringing a consistent effort against the Cavs. Ed had six points, seven rebounds and a block in 18 minutes on Friday, and sparked the team in the third quarter, but when Aaron Gray fouled out in the fourth quarter, Casey elected to go with Amir Johnson, who was the vastly inferior player in this game. I’m at the point where I think Casey is trying to send a message. Does anyone else see it?

5-¬†Andrea Bargnani’s final statline of 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals seems decent at first glance, but when you consider that Bargnani had 13 points in the first quarter and hit his first six shots, then his line of 19 points on 8-of-22 shooting shows you the massive letdown that his overall game was on Friday.

6- An otherwise outstanding defensive performance was spoiled by a horrible fourth quarter for the Raptors. Toronto held Cleveland to just 51 points on 29 per cent shooting through three quarters (a combination of solid Raptors’ defence and half-assed Cavaliers’ offence), but allowed the Cavs to shoot 9-of-14 for 33 fourth quarter points to erase a 12-point deficit heading into the final frame. The tide began to turn when the Raptors left Antawn Jamison wide open behind the arc on three straight possessions. Jamison would go on to score 16 of his 25 points in the fourth.

Bonus: At 20-36, the Raptors still sit seventh from the bottom in the standings, just a half-game ahead of the fourth worst record, but also only two games behind the ninth worst record. That’s the difference right now between heading into the lottery with the guarantee of getting a top-seven pick or the uncertainty of being able to fall all the way down to 12.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 38 Min, 28 Pts, 10-16 FG, 1-2 3PT, 7-8 FT, 4 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Blk, 4 TO

Cavaliers Player of the Game: Antawn Jamison – 39 Min, 25 Pts, 8-16 FG, 3-5 3PT, 6-8 FT, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Blk, 1 TO

Comments (11)

  1. It’s tough to overstate how clutch of a loss this was and how smart it was to scratch Calderon right before tip off because the offense looked completely discombobulated. People think Bargnani is the most influential player to the status of the tank but with Bayless out for the season, the player who will have the most impact on the tank is obviously Calderon because how dependent Bargnani and DeRozan are on someone else getting them the ball based on their inability to consistently create their own offense. If we sit him out, there’s no doubt we’ll struggle to win a game or two over the rest of the season.

    While the Raptors play their next 7 games versus playoff teams (@ OKC, @ IND, vs. PHI, vs. BOS, @ ATL, vs. ATL, @ MIA), the following tank battles take place: CLE @ NJ, WAS @ CHA, CHA @ CLE, SAC @ NO, DET @ CHA, CLE @ WAS, NO @ CHA and CLE @ DET).

    If the Raptors do the right thing, take it easy with Calderon, continue to delay settling whatever beef James Johnson and Casey have then it’d be almost impossible for the Raptors not to finish in the Top 5 which is right where they need to be.

    What a great night.

    • Agreed about Calderon. And for that reason, I’d like to see the Raptors milk this injury and have him sit out for a couple of weeks. Preferably for the entire season, but I doubt that would happen.

      • I could have sworn I saw Calderon tweak his hamstring last night. Poor guy. Best to hold him out the rest of the season. Remember the last time he had a hamstring injury.

    • Umm … smart to scratch Calderon? Did you see his eye? If they really wanted to lose they could have played him and let him turn it over about 15 times from not being able to see out it.

  2. What a great quarter. I had the palm firmly attached to the face for the first 10 minutes. Someone must have slapped Bargs after that.

    Lost a must lose game. Check. Next must lose games? ALL OF THE REST OF THEM THIS SEASON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    BC didn’t build a fucking TANK TEAM for the 12th FUCKING PICK!!!!!

    • It looked pretty bad at one point. I didn’t think the Cavs had a hope in hell of pulling it out. I’ve never liked Antawn Jamison more.

  3. This whole JJ thing got a whole lot more interesting. Obviously it’s a little more than a minor issue for him to have two straight DNP-CD’s.

    Totally agree with you about Ed Davis though. He’s played pretty well recently, and has stayed stayed out of foul trouble, but still gets limited minutes. Very surprised they don’t use him more, especially considering the Cavs have a smaller lineup, he could have been used at the 5 last night.

  4. The curious thing about the JJ benching at this point is that no-one has any idea why it’s happening. Nobody’s leaked anything about it that I’m aware of, which is somewhat odd in itself. And consider the bigger picture: JJ has not been a noticeable disruption or poorly behaved at any point this season – nothing even close to Demar’s tweet that I’ve heard about – never mind being outright disruptive. And the effort and consistency have been there. So what the heck is the actual problem here?

    I’m starting to wonder whether there actually is a problem with JJ per se. By winning four of the last five prior to the Cavs game, the Raptors have put themselves in danger of selecting considerably later in the lottery than we were expecting just a few weeks ago, and this could conceivably be a move to try tank without being seen as tanking.

    Think about it: if you were BC, and you wanted to hobble the Raptors’ chances of winning for a while, why arouse suspicion by holding out Bargnani or Derozan (whose inconsistency will be intermittently tank-positive anyway) when you can find a pretext to hold out a consistent contributor like JJ? Remember that it’s a lot easier to find a reason to hold out a player who is still paying his dues then one who has been anointed as a #1 or #2 option, and there is likely to be less pushback when you do.

    The funny thing is that if this was the intent of the benching, it has been of limited usefulness. We beat Philly without JJ and we were an epic 4th quarter collapse away from beating Cleveland without him and without Calderon while starting two D-leaguers on 10-day contracts.

  5. The treatment of Ed Davis has truly been mind boggling. I’m not sure what goes on behind the scenes (in practice, etc.), but Davis’ playing time has been limited since day 1 (when he put up 14, 7, 2,2 in 18 min) , with great play resulting in nothing but another trip to the bench after his ration of charity minutes are up.

    • It’s just one of the products of the half assed rebuilding job going on, BC wants to tank but Casey wants to win every game. We wasted another season and we still have no idea what we have in Ed Davis, Jerryd Bayless, etc.

      Hey, but at least we know what we have in Calderon and Gray.

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