Interim coach Larry Drew believes the Cleveland Cavaliers had a season-changing performance in their impressive comeback win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at the Quicken Loans Arena.
Despite being without the likes of Larry Nance Jr., Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver, the Cavs were able to come back from a 79-64 deficit at halftime to defeat the current Eastern Conference leaders 132-129 in a game that was all about the performance of LeBron James.
The three-time NBA champion haunted Toronto once again as he finished the game with 35 points, 17 assists and seven rebounds while notably becoming the first player in history to record such figures without a single turnover.
In addition, Kevin Love finished the game with 23 points and 12 rebounds including his 1,000th career three-pointer while point guard George Hill had his best game for the home side with 22 points, shooting 10-for-11. The entire starting five for the home side scored double figures.
The 2016 NBA champions have been largely disappointing this season as they currently lie third in the Eastern Conference with a regular season record of 42-29. However, Drew, who has temporarily taken over Tyronn Lue’s duties as he recovers from a health issue, believes Wednesday’s performance could change things for the Cavs with the NBA Playoffs approaching soon.
“I always say there is one game during the season that changes your team,” Drew said following the victory, as per The News-Herald. “That game can be early, midway, it can be late, but there’s always one game that changes your team’s mindset.”
“I really believe tonight’s game might have done that for us, particularly because we’re shorthanded and No. 2 because we played a really good basketball team and because we came back from a deficit. Very few teams do that against this team.”
Love echoed Drew’s sentiment as he hoped it would be a turning point for the Cavaliers, while James said he did not need to remind everyone what his “teams are capable of doing.”
“Yeah, I hope so. More than anything, it feels like even when we are down, we are not out. It’s been mentioned a thousand times about us not having all the bodies going out there but it’s always been strength in numbers for us,” Love said after the game.
Meanwhile, the Raptors became the first team to lose after scoring a season-high 79 points in the first half and are now just 4.5 games ahead of the Boston Celtics who have a firm grip on second place. While the leaders have been impressive this year, they once again became victims to James’ Cavaliers with Wednesday’s win taking their losing run in Cleveland to 1-8.
They were also swept 4-0 by the Cavaliers in last year’s Eastern Conference semi-finals and could face what has become their bogey team in the finals this year if the standings remain the same. The two teams will meet again at the Quickens Loan Arena for the final time in the regular season on April 3.