The Cleveland Cavaliers got off to an outstanding start in the
first game since their superstar bolted for South Beach. The
Toronto Raptors wish they could say the same.
The Cavaliers look to build on their first win of the
post-LeBron James era Friday night when they visit Toronto, where
the Raptors weren’t as successful in moving on without Chris Bosh
in their opener.
Cleveland (1-0) was twice eliminated from the playoffs by Boston
the past three seasons, with a Game 6 loss to the Celtics in the
Eastern Conference semifinals May 13 serving as the last time James
would ever wear a Cavaliers uniform.
With a balanced offensive effort, the team did just fine in its
first game against Boston without him. J.J. Hickson scored 21
points to lead six Cleveland players in double figures Wednesday in
a 95-87 win.
“Guys in this locker room believe,” said forward Antawn Jamison,
held to four points in 20 minutes off the bench. “We’ve been
listening to what people are predicting for us. We’re going to let
our game do the talking. It’s probably going to take a month or so
for people to realize, ‘Hey, this is a team that can win and
compete for the playoffs.'”
The Raptors (0-1) had a tougher time in their first game without
Bosh, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer who joined James in
signing with Miami. Reggie Evans provided 16 rebounds in taking
over at power forward, but he didn’t score in a 98-93 loss to the
visiting New York Knicks on Wednesday.
Still, point guard Jarrett Jack wasn’t too discouraged after
watching his team rally from 16 points down in the second quarter
to make it a one-possession game with under a minute left in the
“We’re a very resilient bunch,” said Jack, who had 16 points and
six assists. “I thought we showed some fight and some grit out
there. … If we didn’t make a stand the game could have gotten
away from us, and we battled back.”
While Hickson stepped up to lead the Cavaliers on Wednesday, it
appeared Andrea Bargnani was well on his way to doing the same for
Toronto with 18 points at halftime. But he had only four points on
1-of-8 shooting in the final 24 minutes.
Bargnani knows a thing or two about getting off to a hot start
versus Cleveland. The former No. 1 overall pick averaged 17.5
points in the opening half of two home games against the Cavaliers
The Raptors lost three of the teams’ four meetings overall.
Jamison averaged 21.0 points in the series’ final two games
after coming over from Washington, but he’s enjoyed facing Toronto
in any uniform in recent years. He’s averaged 23.3 points and 10.4
rebounds in his last 19 games against the Raptors.
Cleveland won Wednesday with minimal contribution from the
former Sixth Man of the Year and without point guard Mo Williams
(groin), who missed much of the preseason and was held out due to a
lack of conditioning.
It’s unclear if Williams, whom coach Byron Scott says is still
learning the team’s new Princeton offense, will play Friday.
Anderson Varejao will not be available because he remained in
Cleveland to be with his father after he underwent heart