The Cavaliers escaped against the Raptors on Friday night.
The Cavaliers beat the Raptors 94-91. Kyrie Irving lead the team in points with 26 while Kevin Love also played very well, chipping in 18 and 10 in the winning effort. The Cavs played well in the first game against Toronto since last season’s conference finals and it was nice to see the team pick up right where they left off.
The game started off the way the Conference Finals ended, with the Cavaliers starters asserting their will on Toronto. The Cavs had a five point lead after the first frame led by Kyrie Irving and LeBron James.
The second quarter was the same old story. Irving continued to work Kyle Lowry on the offensive end, helping the Cavs extend their lead, which was up to ten by the intermission. Ty Lue primarily used an eight-man rotation in the first half with Iman Shumpert, Mike Dunleavy and Richard Jefferson as the only non starters to see significant time on the court. This tight rotation may have to continue for the near future as a few key members of the team deal with injuries and family responsibilities.
The third quarter saw the gap tighten as the Cavs lead was just four heading into the final frame. Turnovers were the Cavs achilles heel and the lack of depth at point guard already looks like an issue for the wine and gold. The depth issue was made more glaring by the fact that Kyrie Irving sat the final six minutes of the third, which left the Cavs floundering offensively and allowed the Raptors to claw their way back into the game.
The fourth quarter was a classic Eastern Conference slug fest where the two best teams in the conference played one another extremely closely, if sloppily. The game was tied with less than a minute left when none other than Kyrie Irving hit a three-pointer to put the Cavs ahead for good. At least in their first matchup this season, its clear that the Cavs still hold an edge over their Northern rivals.
A highlight for the Cavaliers had to be the return of Iman Shumpert who was bumped from the season opener with a concussion. Shumpert is expected to shoulder an even larger load than he did last season and his quick return from a scary injury like a concussion is a big boon for the defending NBA Champions.
While the Cavs had to be happy with the return of Shumpert, they were without the services of backup center Channing Frye who will be away from the team indefinitely after his mother passed away from cancer. Frye has been a huge part of the team, both on and off the court, since his acquisition at last seasons trade deadline and our thoughts are with him during this difficult time.
The Cavs will be back in action tomorrow night when they take on the Orlando Magic. Keep an eye on how the team responds to their first back-to-back of the season, particularly since the Magic are not the type of opponent the Cavs are likely to be jazzed up to play.