Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

With Warriors on way, Raptors keep focus after routing Cavs

Nothing has stopped the Cleveland Cavaliers' skid. Not now, of course.

Thomas, who will sit out at IN because he has not been cleared to play both nights of a back-to-back, finished with four points, two rebounds and three assists, hitting 2-of-15 field goals and 0-for-6 from long range.

With only two losses at the Air Canada Centre this season, the Raptors are establishing a dominance that can make them a risky team if they can secure home court advantage.

Those circumstances didn't seem to faze the Raptors, who have won six of their last seven despite playing their third game in four nights. It's not a one-game outlier either. It makes the Raptors less predictable.

The shorthanded Toronto Raptors visibly frustrated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers with a demoralizing defeat, and Kyrie Irving liked it. The Cavaliers' regular-season play has gone in patches of mediocrity and stretches of brilliance so far, but there is still the sense that they are just waiting to explode in the postseason. That should've led to a blowout. But we expect more for Oladipo. Jonas Valanciunas dominated early, putting up nine points and nine rebounds in little more than six minutes.

They started out in a huge funk, losing to teams that they shouldn't have lost to.

The Raptors (29-11) could again be without guard Kyle Lowry, who missed the loss Tuesday to the Miami Heat and the win over Cleveland, with a bruised tailbone. Also, the fourth-ranked offense of the Cavaliers (offensive efficiency of 111.0) will square off against the 22nd-ranked defense of the Pacers (defensive efficiency of 107.9). Kevin Love followed up his 1-for-7 night in the Cavs' loss to Minnesota on Monday with a 2-for-8 night against Toronto for 10 points. They now rank third in offensive rating and fourth in defensive rating.

Sitting out the fourth quarter, James led the Cavs with 26 points, going 9-of-16 from the field, with three rebounds and an assist. The schedule has been brutal, which gives flashbacks to last March when team meetings were happening weeks before the playoffs.

"I think this time around you just understand patience more, where before you'd get excited off certain games like this or certain moments or a winning streak or all that", DeRozan said. "We took our time and made the right plays and got the W". "We will get out of it and we will get better".

But the guy with a knack for getting inside opponents' heads with unthinkable stunts, like blowing in James' ear or giving him a thumb in the side - as television replays showed during the game - played the instigator perfectly. "I don't know where it kind of went wrong or what happened to switch back, but we've got to try to pick it back up and find it".

But it will be another story against the Warriors, who pioneered the run-and-gun style and used it to beat the Cavs in last year's NBA Finals.

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