Darren Collison scored 22 points and Victor Oladipo added 19 as the Indiana Pacers held off the Cleveland Cavaliers 97-95 last night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Here are four players the Cleveland Cavaliers should target to improve ahead of the National Basketball Association trade deadline.
Last year's Cavs squad finished the season 22nd in defensive rating and generally proved that they could flip the proverbial switch in the postseason when they all cared.
"There's a few games but you could nitpick so much, dwell on it", said DeRozan. "So they caught me on the retaliation, so - but he played well tonight". On this night, the Cavs were done in by a scoreless stretch of 3:20 in the second quarter when the Raptors went on an 11-0 run to take a 55-34 lead. "It is a good win on the road", Durant said. The Eastern Conference Champions are going to have to get the whole team on the same page, irrespective of whether James has an agenda or not.
DeRozan is a rarity in this era as a high-volume perimeter scorer who doesn't take a lot of three-pointers. Led by seven players finishing in double figures, the home team controlled the pace for nearly the entire game, providing their starters an early finish to their night in the fourth quarter. "You just can't play regular defense on him, you have to get into him. That changes the whole dynamic". It was a competitive game throughout though, with Golden State leading 91-86 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Raptors are 18-4 since November 25 - only the Warriors at 19-4 are better in that span - a sign of the consistency that Casey is striving for. The Warriors are now ranked 4th in pace, averaging 102.42 possessions per game, while the previously slow-paced Raptors have played at the 9th fastest pace this season.
Cleveland Cavaliers Cedi Osman dunks during the first half of Friday's game against the Indiana Pacers. ASSOCIATED PRESS
They're now 6.5 games behind Boston and third place in the East behind the Celtics and the Toronto Raptors.
He bricked a three-point shot and mid-range jumper on his second- and third-to-last shots of the game, but Ty Lue drew an isolation play for him with the Cavs down a point in the final 5.5 seconds.
"We've been learning it, appreciating it, understanding it, since Day 1 of training camp", said DeRozan on the court of the Biosteel Centre, the Raptors' practice facility.
"We just needed to settle down and focus", Nate McMillan said. "When he's out, we have to execute better at both ends". "We came out tentative for whatever reason".
According to Casey, having success with the new system helps but isn't everything.
But to the surprise of nobody who follows the Raptors, the team ended up being the sidebar story on their big night. Forward Serge Ibaka will return for Toronto after serving a one-game suspension for fighting Miami's James Johnson.