Cavaliers do it with D to top Raptors: LeBron’s new team next

Collin Sexton of the Cavs talks with Jorge Sedano after a win over the Raptors on Sunday night in Las Vegas.

Here’s a statement that has not been made since, oh, the 2015 NBA Finals — “The Cleveland Cavaliers did it with defense.”

Really, they did, and it paved the way to an 82-68 victory over the Toronto Raptors in a Las Vegas Summer League quarterfinal clash Sunday night at Thomas & Mack Center.

With the win, the 12th-seeded Cavaliers advance to semifinal play, where they will meet the top-seeded and defending champion Lakers on Monday night at 8:30 (ESPN2). Former Cavalier LeBron James was on hand to cheer on his new team, the Lakers, in their 91-73 whipping of Detroit in the game before the Cavs took the floor. He shared a warm embrace with Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue before making his exit.

Cleveland (5-1), despite again playing without swingman Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic, tightened the screws on Toronto in the third quarter, limiting the Raptors to four points in the 10-minute quarter and outscored them, 21-4. It turned a 39-37 halftime deficit into a 58-43 advantage after three quarters.

“Honestly, Coach told us to just go there and D up,” rookie point guard Collin Sexton said of James Posey in a postgame interview with Jorge Sedano on ESPN2. “He said, ‘Have defensive pride. Play with pride. Don’t let them take it from you.’ We just continued to fight and I gelt like we stopped them from what they usually get into.”

John Holland led the Cavaliers (5-1) with 23 points, shooting 8 of 12 including a 4 of 7 effort from deep. Holland played on a two-way contract with Cleveland last season.

Sexton had 18 points, on 6 of 14 shooting, three rebounds and six assists in 27 minutes. Scoochie Smith had 10 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks and Billy Preston continued to flash with 10 points, nine boards and a block for the winners.

Chris Boucher led the Raptors (2-4) with 18 points, eight boards and four blocked shots before fouling out late in the game. Alfonzo McKinnie (14 points, 6 rebounds), Malachi Richardson (14 points) and Giddy Potts (12 points) also reached double figures with Toronto.

Sexton, who was poked in the left eye late in the first half and did not come out of the locker room until after third second half began, said he enjoys playing on the defensive end of the floor.

“I feel like if I’m getting stops, I have to go on the other end and score,” the former Alabama star whom the Cavaliers selected with the eighth overall pick in the draft June 21, said. “That’s what really gets my game going is defense first, and then offense.”

Cleveland limited Toronto to 30.9-percent shooting, 20 percent from deep, won the battle of the boards, 62-46, and recorded 10 blocked shots.

It’s quickly becoming apparent, it all starts with Sexton, who pushes the ball at every opportunity.

“Honestly, I feel like I’m doing pretty good,” he said of pushing the pace, something Lue has been wanting for the last four seasons. “I’m going to continue to learn and continue to watch film each and every day.”

2 Comments on "Cavaliers do it with D to top Raptors: LeBron’s new team next"

  1. Why does LBJ have to be mentioned in both articles about OUR summer league game vs the Raptors? He’s not a Cavalier anymore. Not sure I needed the headliner about LBJ being on hand to support his new young teammates either. Love you guys, but can we please move on??

    • yes.

      The only thing I care to know about Lebron would come from LBJ’s own self. Unless he’s doing the talking I’m not interested in any articles/stories about him. Those of us who believe in mental health said goodbye in the days after he announced. I’m here to read about the team that exists.

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