TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan isn’t reading too deep into the Toronto Raptors’ blowout of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday. However, he’s not entirely sure that feeling will go both ways.
The Raptors handled the Cavaliers 133-99 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. It was the first matchup of the season between the teams after the Cavaliers swept the Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season.
Despite the absence of starters Kyle Lowry (injury) and Serge Ibaka (suspension), the Raptors controlled the game from beginning to end. The performance could be perceived as a message, and although DeRozan argues it has little meaning in the grand scheme of the season, he believes the Cavaliers are going to have the outcome in mind when the teams meet again on March 21.
“Talking about regular season (games) and playoffs, it’s two different things,” DeRozan said during his post-game scrum. “I’m pretty sure next time we play them they’re going to remember this game. It’s going to be a whole different type of game, and we’ve got to be ready for that. That’s the season. Just like we kept in mind what happened to us in the playoffs.”
DeRozan credited a strong offensive flow for how the game unfolded. He revealed some concern about the potential “shell shock” of not having starting point guard Lowry in the lineup, but the entire team contributed in his absence. The Raptors bench provided a season-high 76 points, and the team had 31 assists on 53 field goals.
“The guys did a great job, ” said DeRozan, who scored 13 points with eight assists and three rebounds. “We all passed the ball extremely well, we got a lot of great looks, back doors. We were moving the ball. It showed that we all came together and we understood what we had to do.”
The nature of the victory was an encouraging sign for the Raptors, but DeRozan reiterated it’s merely one regular-season game on an 82-game schedule. After an abundance of personnel changes in the offseason and beyond, the version of the Cavaliers who lost on Thursday is different from the team that bounced the Raptors from the playoffs in consecutive years.
Time will tell whether this game was a flash in the pan or if the Raptors will consistently get the better of the Cavaliers this season. DeRozan knows LeBron James and company will be out for vengeance next time around, and he said it’s on the Raptors to be prepared.
“You can never overlook them, underlook them no matter how they play, no matter what the score of a game is,” DeRozan says. “At the end of the day they’ve got their experience to be able to turn it on. They’ve got a guy on their team that understands what it takes. So, really, we can’t feed too much into it. They’re continuing to be themselves, continue to get better, and next time they come around, be prepared.”
Jan. 10: Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) hoists a shot over Clippers defender Tyrone Wallace (12) on his way to becoming the second-youngest player in league history to reach 20,000 career points. Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports
Jan. 8: The Indiana Pacers’ Lance Stephenson is fouled by the Milwaukee Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon in the second half at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers won the game, 109-96. Trevor Ruszkowski, USA TODAY Sports
Jan. 7: San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills prevents the ball from going out of bounds in front of Portland Trail Blazers guard Evan Turner in the first half at Moda Center. The Trail Blazers won the game, 111-110. Jaime Valdez, USA TODAY Sports
Jan. 6: Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (4) looks to pass around Bulls center Robin Lopez (42) in Indianapolis. Oladipo returned from a four-game injury absence to lead the Pacers to a 126-86 rout. Trevor Ruszkowski, USA TODAY Sports
Jan. 5: 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) throws down a two-handed flush over Pistons defender Andre Drummond (0) in Philadelphia. Embiid and the 76ers rolled to a 114-78 rout. John Geliebter, USA TODAY Sports
Jan. 2: Isaiah Thomas drives to the basket against the Portland Trail Blazers. Thomas made his highly anticipated season and Cleveland Cavaliers debut, scoring 17 points in the Cavs’ 127-110 win. Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 31: Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal dunks the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the second half at Capital One Arena. Beal scored 39 points in the Wizards’ 114-110 win. Brad Mills, USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 29: Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) dunks the ball over Milwaukee Bucks center Thon Maker (7) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mark D. Smith, USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 28: Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts after committing a foul on Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during the final seconds of a loss at TD Garden. Greg M. Cooper, USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 27: The Sacramento Kings’ Vince Carter (15) drives to the basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Jae Crowder. Carter scored a season-high 24 points in the Kings’ 109-95 win. Sergio Estrada, USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 26: The San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard shoots the ball past the Brooklyn Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie (8) and Allen Crabbe (33) during the Spurs’ 109-97 win at AT&T Center. Soobum Im, USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 23: Brooklyn Nets forward Caris LeVert takes a shot and is fouled by Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (4) during the fourth quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers won the game, 123-119. Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 17: Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) drives to the basket as Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield (24) tries to defend in the third quarter at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors won the game, 108-93. Nick Turchiaro, USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 13: Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George and Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo, who were traded for each other in June, greet each other before George’s return to Indiana. Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 6: Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs won, extending their winning streak to 13 games. David Richard, USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 5: Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) reacts after making a three-point basket against the Portland Trail Blazers during the third quarter at the Moda Center. Beal scored a career-high 51 points on the night. Craig Mitchelldyer, USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 4: Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton (2) and Charlotte Hornets center Dwight Howard (12) grab for a rebound in the second half at Spectrum Center. The Hornets won the game, 104-94. Jeremy Brevard, USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 3: The Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo is fouled by the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green during the second half of the Warriors’ 123-95 win at American Airlines Arena. Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports
Dec. 2: Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) is introduced and runs past a Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper before the game against the LA Clippers at the American Airlines Center. Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports
Nov. 30: Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) moves to the basket against Los Angeles Clippers forward Wesley Johnson (33) during the second half at Staples Center. The Jazz won the game, 106-95. Richard Mackson, USA TODAY Sports
Nov. 26: Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie (8) blocks the shot of Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans (12) during the second half at FedExForum. The Nets won the game, 99-88. Justin Ford, USA TODAY Sports
Nov. 21: The Los Angeles Lakers’ Josh Hart moves to the basket against the defense of the Chicago Bulls’ Robin Lopez during the the Lakers’ 103-94 win at Staples Center. Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports
Nov. 20: Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) reacts after drawing a technical foul against Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (not pictured) during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports
Nov. 17: Miami Heat forward James Johnson (16) attempts to dunk the ball as Washington Wizards forward Jason Smith (14) defends in the fourth quarter at Capital One Arena. Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Nov. 15: New York Knicks forward Tim Hardaway Jr. (3) celebratesalong with guard Courtney Lee (5)after hitting a three-point shot late in the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at Madison Square Garden. Adam Hunger, USA TODAY Sports
Nov. 14: Toronto Raptors center Jakob Poeltl (42) fouls Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) on a play during the third quarter at Toyota Center. The Raptors won the game, 129-113. Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports
Nov. 13: LeBron James and New York Knicks center Enes Kanter are separated by New York Knicks shooting guard Courtney Lee during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Nov. 9: Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle (30) dunks the ball as Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) looks on in the fourth quarter at Capital One Arena. Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
Nov. 7: Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons goes for the dunk against Utah Jazz forward Thabo Sefolosha in the third quarter of a 104-97 win for the 76ers at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Jeffrey Swinger, USA TODAY Sports
Nov. 1: LeBron James reacts in the fourth quarter ofa 124-107 loss to the Indiana Pacers at Quicken Loans Arena. It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Cleveland Cavaliers. David Richard, USA TODAY Sports
Oct. 31: The Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Raymond Felton battle for a loose ball in the fourth quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Thunder won the game, 110-91. Benny Sieu, USA TODAY Sports