Cavs blow out depleted Raptors at home
The Cleveland Cavaliers were not in a giving mood the day after Christmas, blowing out a severely depleted Toronto Raptors team. Despite being quite short-handed themselves, the Cavs marched back into the winning column following a merciless 144-99 decimation of the hapless Raptors.
Being without most of their usual starters, Cleveland’s newly-extended head coach J.B. Bickerstaff inserted Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Dean Wade back into the starting lineup, and the trio stepped up in a big way.
Love joined Darius Garland as they led the Cavaliers with 22 points, while the erstwhile struggling Lauri Markkanen had 20 markers of his own off 9-for-13 scoring from the field as all five starters finished in double-figures.
Even as they played without two-thirds of the Tower City frontcourt, the Cavs dominated the interior on the offensive end, dumping 54 huge points in the paint against the Raptors, who were also without a true center after losing half the team to health and safety protocols.
Japanese star Yuta Watanabe scored a game-high 26 for Toronto but had little help apart from Chris Boucher and D.J. Wilson, who combined for 36 in the rout.
Cavs look to kickstart another streak
Bench ace Cedi Osman became the latest to enter the NBA’s health and safety protocols, joining Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, Isaac Okoro, Lamar Stevens, Dylan Windler, Ed Davis, and RJ Nembhard, becoming the eight Cavalier player out due to COVID.
Luckily, Cleveland had more than half of the rotation back in uniform to stay competitive during this stretch. The team will remain afloat as long as they can avoid more health-related issues while awaiting the return of key cogs like Allen, Mobley, and Okoro.
At 20-13, the Cavs remain very much alive in the hunt for a playoff spot but have fallen a few places in the tightly contested Eastern Conference. Having more regular rotation guys back in the roster would definitely be crucial going forward.
The Cavaliers will look to end the year with another winning streak as they embark on another road trip, visiting the New Orleans Pelicans on December 28 and the Washington Wizards on the 30th.