Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Growing pains apparent as Cavs make easy work of Raptors

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One didn’t need the standings to tell them what stages the two teams battling it out at Scotiabank Arena were at in their development.

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While the visiting Cavaliers, winners of eight in a row and one of the hottest teams in the NBA were operating at peak efficiency, the Raptors looked very much like a team that had just been through another minor roster overhaul.

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The result was as expected, a Cleveland win by a 119-95 score to extend that win streak to nine, while the Raptors continued on their way to a season headed for a low 30’s win total.

The Raptors were working both Kelly Olynyk and Ochai Agbaji into the fold, two players obtained at the trade deadline not long after RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Bruce Brown joined the fold.

That’s a lot of turnover in a rather short time and it comes with consequences like a lot of disjointed play peppered with passes to no one in particular and the resulting turnover. In short, this wasn’t the Raptors at their best.

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Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic wasted little time getting his newcomers in the mix, going with Olynyk in his first call off the bench and Agbaji right behind him with the second wave of subs.

But it’s not just the two newcomers finding a rhythm with their new team but the newcomers added to two starters and another key bench player all finding a comfort level with one another.

So while the Cavs instinctively know where each will be at any point in a play, the Raptors are still guessing and failing to connect on plays that are normally second nature.

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The bigger issue Saturday night for the Raptors was their inability to play cohesive defence as the Cavs were treated to a slew of open looks from three and far too many uncontested layups as the Toronto defence never quite got on the same page.

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Again, it’s to be expected at this stage, but it doesn’t make it any more palatable.

Seven different Cavs made it into double digits in this one, led by the 18 from Jarrett Allen.

Toronto was led by 24 from Scottie Barnes who finished with one of the more less impactful triple doubles (10 rebounds and 10 assists) in Raptors’ history on a night where the team were never a threat to win the game.

Toronto got 14 off the bench from Gradey Dick who was 3-for-5 from behind the arc while Olynyk had 11 off the bench in addition to six rebounds in his Raptors’ debut.

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FILLING OUT THE ROSTER

Those two open spots on the Raptors roster following trade deadline deals didn’t stay open long.

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The team filled them Saturday prior to tipoff with the Cleveland Cavaliers, signing a pair of Raptors 905ers to 10-day contracts.

Justice Winslow, a guy with 344 NBA games under his belt and a former 10th overall pick, will join the parent team after 17 games with the 905.

Winslow is a 6-foot-6 guard who was averaging 16.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists with Raptors 905.

Joining him on his own 10-day contract will be Mouhammed Gueye, better known as Mo-G.

Mo-G is a 6-9 leaper who will quickly add to the Raptors highlights package with his dunking abilities.

Gueye appeared in 23 games with the 905 and averaged 14.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.

Neither player got into the game Saturday night.

mganter@postmedia.com

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