Title: Raptors’ first-half drudging of Cavaliers a perfect example of late-season developmental win
Date: April 10, 2021
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the good kind of late-season win for the Raptors, underwritten by meaningful development from their youth.
In a season where so little has made sense for the Toronto Raptors, a night like Saturday feels as normal as any other. Which is to say, the new normal around the team is something novel happening most nights, whether it’s isolated to that game or contributing to a larger pattern of yearlong bizarreness. That has cut both ways and, more often than not, cut against the Raptors.
That wasn’t the case in a 135-115 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This was a game where the first half played out so unconventionally in terms of positive variance that it was a surprise when an end-of-half buzzer-beater from Stanley Johnson only found rim. Yuta Watanabe, standing on the baseline by the Raptors bench, held his hands on his head in disbelief, a smile sneaking through. Others on the bench threw their heads back, as much in surprise as disappointment that Johnson couldn’t cap a ridiculous 24 minutes with another nonsensical heave finding the bucket.
“Everything’s weird at this point,” assistant coach Jama Mahlalela told Sportsnet coming out of halftime.