Title: Lowry-less Raptors avoid letdown game, win a little ugly in Cleveland
Date: December 1, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors’ kind of ugly victory over the Cavaliers and Kawhi Leonard stepping into a bigger role with Kyle Lowry out.
There really couldn’t be two victories more in contrast to each other over the span of about 50 hours.
On Thursday, the Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors in an instant classic that lifted spirits, offered a glimpse at a best-case upside and taught important lessons as to what needs to be done to reach a certain long-term ideal. It was fun, it was important, it was encouraging and it was helpful. On Saturday, a 106-95 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers was none of those things for Toronto. They merely survived, winning an ugly and sluggish road game that looked like an entirely different entertainment product than two days prior.
Of course, in both cases they came away with a win, offering a snapshot of another Raptors strength in contrast to Thursday’s glimpse at their ceiling: Their floor. It’s that floor that’s prevented them from playing behind often, helped them pull out of slides even when they blow leads and get out to a franchise-best 20-4 start. Saturday’s victory was their eighth in a row, the fourth-longest such streak in team history. You have to play the games because sometimes they don’t turn out as they look on paper. This one did.