Sideline Beers for everyone! Cavs vs Raptors Game 1, Behind the Box Score

Cleveland Cavaliers 116
Toronto Raptors 105
[Box Score]

Prior to the Cavaliers’ opening game against the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue stated that he felt the first five or six minutes could be a bit dicey. With his team not having played in eight nights and not doing much in the way of scrimmages—instead opting more for conditioning and film—he felt it could take a bit of time for the defending champions to get their sea legs back under them. The Cavaliers, however, had other ideas as they stormed out to a 12-point first quarter lead on the shoulders of highlight plays and solid defense.

In one moment of the game midway through the first quarter, LeBron James stripped the ball from Toronto’s Serge Ibaka, tipped it to Kyrie Irving and immediately pointed to the glass. Irving cruised down the right side of the court and, while he could have easily laid it in for two, lobbed the ball high off the glass as James soared past the trailing Ibaka, corralled the ball with his left hand and threw down a thunderous alley oop.

The play itself stretched the Cavs’ lead to 10-3, but it was a moment that felt so much bigger at the time, and one that would carry the team throughout the rest of the game. The Cavaliers seemed to use the energy from the first quarter, have Quicken Loans Arena fans dump fuel on it, and roll through the rest of the contest despite a few ups and downs with the reserve unit.

“It’s always a concerted effort, but you have to play–you can’t just talk about it,” James told WFNY of the quick start. “We can talk about having a great start and holding a team, but you still have to play the game. I liked our energy. It was very, very good, and it was sustained. It was a mystery because we had that eight-day layoff. Sometimes you can come out with a lot of energy and it can just go away, but for 48 minutes, we kept that intensity up and it worked in our favor.

All in all, it was James who finished with a game-high 35 points on 13-of-23 shooting, adding 10 boards and four assists. Kyrie Irving, while not as efficient, was fight behind James with 24 points and 10 assists, a career high in the playoffs. The Cavs’ front court duo of Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson finished with 29 points and 23 rebounds while stifling Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas who shot just 9-of-21 from the floor, having to earn many of their buckets away from the hoop.

“It was very good to see, especially after the layoff,” said Lue following the game. “The guys came out pushing the basketball and with a defensive mindset. It was good to get off to a good start, especially when you haven’t played in a while. … We had the chance to figure it out last year. We took it day by day. I stayed the course for what we did last year, had a few conditioning days. It was harder than playing the games, but you have to give credit to the guys for staying with it.”

50 — The percent of three-pointers hit by Kyle Kover, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert on the night, combining to go 8-of-16 from deep. Shumpert was the first person off of the Cavs bench (more on this later) after not playing a single minute in Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers, each of the four main reserves playing around 17 minutes each.

“We didn’t get close to the shooters,” said Toronto head coach Dwane Casey following the game. “Defensively, we didn’t play with the type of physicality that we needed to. We know that the shooters are going to do. You’re going to slow James down, you’re not going to stop him. There are other things we have to do within our scheme. We have to react quicker in those situations.”

4 – Cavaliers turnovers through the first three quarters. The team credited much of their defensive success on this as it allowed an older, slower team to not have to play in transition for most of the game. Also in the “little things” category, the Cavs hit 22 of 25 free throws through the first three quarters as well.

29 to 20 — Speaking of free throws, Casey was asked about the disparity between the two teams, but he didn’t bite. Instead, he stated that his team didn’t earn trips to the line by playing passively and settling at times. Cavs fans will recall that it was Casey who, in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, went in on how the officials were calling the game, as LeBron James was dominant through Games 1 and 2. Just something worth keeping an eye on in the event he tries to play that card once again.

12 – The weight of the right-armed curl done by LeBron James after he ran into a beer lady on the sideline following a near three-point play.

James would say after the game that nothing he does in those situations are premeditated. And despite the advertising he gave Great Lakes Brewing Company, he added that he wasn’t much of a beer guy. “If it was red wine though, I may have taken a sip,” he joked.

“Everything” — What Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan said needs to change.

3 — The number of minutes played by Dahntay Jones before he was ejected for a second technical foul. Impressive efficiency from the veteran who also managed to go 1-for-1 from the floor with a dunk.

67.7 — The percent of Jones’ $9,000 compensation from the Cavs that will have been spent on said ejection (which will cost $6,000). Earned, not given, you guys.

A few — Words with Coach Lue following the game.

We’ll see you Wednesday night back at The Q.

  • Harv

    – Dahntay Jones is thenew Kendrick Perkins, writ small. A hockey enforcer focused on the opponent’s psyche, not the score.

    – Shump has a gleam in his eye since being benched.

    – A sound defensive game plan and really good job neutering DeRozan drives and trips to the foul line. The other Raptors will start hitting more open shots and these games will be closer. In fact, I’d bet against a sweep because the Cavs don’t seem to respect Toronto much. Boredom lurks behind every 12-2 run.

    – Last year Toronto tied the series behind Biyombo and his contract year Tazmanian devil effort. But he’s paid and gone, and Valanciunis is weirdly passive. Dude has to fight harder.

    – The league can shut up about LeBron’s days off. When his legs are spring-loaded and mind fresh like this, opponents like Toronto with only puncher’s chances know they are effed, and the rest is about bowing out with pride. Cavs in 5.

  • Saggy

    50 percent on threes? wow, very nice.

    When you hear about guys hitting at 50% you figure there will be a drop-off next game. But if you go back and check the tape you’ll certainly see a TON of wide-open looks. If you hope to hit 40% on threes in general, I think you should hope to hit 50% of wide-open shots. They’re nearly layups for guys like JR, Koerver, and Love.

  • Saggy
  • Greg Popelka

    Cavs in 5 means they;ll lose game 3- right? If they lose Game 2, I’d say it’ll go longer than 5.
    If they go 3-0, they;re not losing Game 4. I’m calling a sweep.

  • Pat Leonard

    We were staying over at my parents’ house last night and the power went out before the game started. We put the kids to bed, left my parents in the dark to babysit, and drove down the street to the bar to watch the game. It was the right decision, man is it fun to watch the Raptors get smoked.

  • Greg Popelka

    The sideline beer thing reminds me of a Doug Dieken story I once heard. There were fans watching a Browns training camp scrimmage. It was a structured thing, with league refs. The starting offense was struggling. On one play, they were called for holding. It was quiet for a moment, and someone watching clearly yelled, “It was Dieken. He’s always holding.” Everyone heard it.

    Dieken broke from the huddle, and sprinted to the guy who said it. He took the guy’s beer, and chugged the rest of the can. He dropped it, flattened it with his foot, and said to the guy, “Thanks, I needed that.”
    (That was a well-known aftershave ad statement.)

    Then Dieken ran back out to the huddle and the scrimmage continued.


    I guess my question is: yeah, Toronto missed a few bunnies in the lane, but where do they find the offense to make up for the points-discrepancy? Lowry and DeRozan combined for 39, which barely offsets James alone. Who do they have to make up the difference? It’s not like they played badly and can make up for it in future games. The Cavs’ defense remains very meh, but their offense is juuuust fine. I don’t think Toronto can keep up.

    I do think there will be one game in Toronto where someone like Ibaka or Valenciunis goes off for 25 to complement Lowry and DeRozan. It *still* may not be enough, though.


    There was a moment late in the third (I think) or early in the fourth where TNT did a quick two-second cut to “Jurassic Park” and the fans looked like a still photograph. I don’t know why “We The North” annoys me so, but it does. So, to see those fans just standing there, motionless and expressionless… it was glorious.

  • Harv

    How’d they win 2 last year? Guards went off while Kyrie went matador, Biyombo got fierce while Tristan didn’t feel like matching it. Last night Toronto missed more than bunnies: they missed open J’s, mid-range and 3s, over and over. Don’t underestimate the Cavs willingness to decide they’ll turn it on in just a few minutes, or next quarter, or next game. Iso misses, not getting back on defense, freaky-deeky attitude toward 50/50 balls … that’s where the points come from.

  • Harv

    Now that’s a classic Dieken story. Might even be true.

  • JNeids

    Good game, but if they get bored and let Toronto steal game 2, then it was all for naught. Just like a blooper that falls between fielders counts the same in the box score as a laser line drive, a demoralizing W can quickly revert back into a regular ol’ W if they manage a split. Nobody will remember HOW we won game 1, just that they stole home court advantage and momentum. (For the record, I don’t think this will happen).

  • Saggy

    I don’t mind the slogan but it was totally funny to see those fans shellshocked.

  • JNeids

    Also, really don’t understand the scheduling. Boston and Washington both wrapped up their first rounds on Friday, then had to turn around and play game 1 on Sunday. Meanwhile, we’ve been off since last Sunday and Toronto closed out on Thursday…but they get an extra day to recover with game 1 Monday.
    Also, no extra travel day between games 2-3, and you know Norm’s Mounties are just itching to prevent us from crossing the border again.

  • Harv

    Last year everyone was sure a sweep was imminent when Cavs were dominant and up 2-0, including the Toronto media. And it went 6. Just seems at this point that the Cavs are Finals adrenaline junkies and can turn into fidgety, bored kids in the back seat.

  • JNeids

    I’m fine with them getting bored in game 3 and closing out in 5. But you cannot let it happen early and let them go into two games at home thinking they can pull this off.

  • tsm

    I understand they want us and GSW to be on alternate nights, thus our Monday slot.

  • Believelander

    Seriously, when was the last time you saw a backboard pass on a fast break in an NBA playoff game?

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