Cavaliers trounce Raptors to win 17 of their last 18 games, move into solo second in Eastern Conference standings


The Cleveland Cavaliers continued their winning ways Saturday with a resounding 119-95 victory over the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena. The Cavs have won a season-high nine games in a row and 17 of their last 18.

Jarrett Allen led the Cavaliers with a double-double 18 points and 15 rebounds. Evan Mobley (17 points, 11 rebounds) also recorded a double double for the Cavs while Donovan Mitchell added 15 points. The trio were three of eight Cavs players who posted double-digit points against the Raptors.

Entering Saturday’s game, Allen was averaging 15.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game on 64.1 percent shooting from the floor. Mobley is also averaging a double double in points and rebounds (15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds).

With Saturday’s win, the Cavs improved to a league-leading 17-8 on the road. When Darius Garland (broken jaw) and Mobley (left knee surgery) were sidelined during the first half of the season, it could’ve been troublesome for the Cavs. Instead, Cleveland went 11-3 in the 14 games without Garland and Mobley. The Cavaliers’ hot streak has them second in the Eastern Conference with a 35-16 record. The Boston Celtics sit atop the conference at 40-12.

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How the Cavs got here

Cleveland is smoldering hot right now because Mitchell is playing exactly like the Cavs hoped he would when they gambled and acquired him prior to the start of last season. Mitchell has played the best basketball of his career in a Cavs jersey and has elevated himself to an MVP level since the team lost Garland and Mobley to injuries back in December.

Mitchell is averaging 28.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists over this 18-game stretch while shooting better than 37 percent from 3. He’s also getting plenty of help. Since Jan. 3, when this streak began, the Cavs are making more than 15 3s a night (second in the league behind Boston), their plus-17 net rating easily leads the league (the Knicks are second at 11.1) and they’re second in fast-break points.

After the injuries to Mobley and Garland, the Cavs transformed almost overnight from a 1990s team that won with muscle, midrange and defense into this frenetic, pace-and-space team that hoists as many 3s as any team in the league while clinging to its defensive identity. It has proven to be a devastating combination.

Allen and Mitchell have developed pick-and-roll rhythm and Allen is worthy of an All-Star bid that never came. Mobley is back and starting to stretch his range, the bench legitimately goes 10 deep every night and if Garland can find his rhythm, the Cavs can be a dangerous out come the postseason. — Jason Lloyd, senior columnist 

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(Photo: Nick Turchiaro / USA Today)





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