Posted on January 12, 2018, by Travis Pulver

A single win or loss during the regular season means nothing. A modest winning or losing streak doesn’t really mean much either. But that doesn’t mean the Toronto Raptors shouldn’t be about how they destroyed the Cleveland Cavaliers Thursday night. They absolutely should rejoice after dominating the Cavaliers, 133-99. But they need to keep things in perspective as well.

LeBron James did his best to do so before Thursday’s shootaround.

Via @raptorsrepublic

“This is just us during the regular season,” said James hours before the loss to the Raptors (ESPN). “This is just us. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at times.”

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Cleveland should have been able to break out of their recent funk with Kyle Lowry (injury) and Serge Ibaka (suspension) not playing. Instead, they lose their second game in a row and sixth of their last eight. While their last loss was pretty bad (127-99 at the hands of the Timberwolves), this one was their most lopsided of the season.

“I don’t know where it kind of went wrong or what happened,” James said after the game (ESPN). “We’ve got to try to pick it back up and find it.”

The game was close in the first quarter, but as the period came to an end, the Raptors were able to get out to a 30-24 lead. A disastrous second quarter by the Cavaliers saw Toronto extend the lead to 65-40 by halftime. Cleveland made it a little more competitive in the second half, but the damage was done.

James had a good night from the floor (9-16 for 26 points). But he got almost no help from his teammates. Kevin Love chipped in 10 points after going 2-8 from the floor. Isaiah Thomas missed his first 11 shots and ended up going 2-15 (four points).

As a team, the Cavaliers shot a dismal 38.2 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from three-point range.

While it would be easy to point at the terrible night most of the Cavaliers had from the floor, the Raptors deserve credit for playing their game. Fred VanVleet led the team in scoring with 22 points off the bench (8-11 from the floor; 6-8 from three-point range). C.J. Miles and Pascal Siakim each chipped in 16 points, and Jonas Valanciunas added 15.

“I was really proud of the way he came to play,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said (ESPN).

Toronto’s bench outscored Cleveland’s 76-48. The Raptors also outrebounded the Cavs, 63-35. The win gives Toronto 29 on the year and sets a new franchise record (most wins through 40 games).

The Aftermath

James is likely right. How the Cavs play now matters little. They know they will be in the thick of the playoff chase when it starts. Beating them once is one thing, but beating them four times in seven games or less is another. Of course, the version taking the court right now would probably be swept. But the Cavs of today will not be the Cavs of the postseason.

Toronto will not be able to enjoy this one for long. They face off against the Golden State Warriors Saturday night at home.  Cleveland heads to Indiana next for a game against the Pacers Friday night.

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