A Tale of Two NBA Teams
by Henry L. Liao
A day after Christmas, the surprising Cleveland Cavaliers pulverized the short-handed Toronto Raptors, 144-99, at home to lift their record to 20-13, fifth best in the NBA East.
A year ago, the Cavs finished the 2020-21 season at 20-52 (72 games).
They are 10-7 at home and 10-6 on the road so far this season.
Cleveland leads the East and ranks third in the NBA with 15 double-digit victories. The Wine City squad’s last 11 victories have been by at least 10 points.
The 45-point win over Toronto is Cleveland’s largest victory margin this season.
On the other side of the fence, Japanese-born Yuta Watanabe registered career-highs of 26 points and 13 rebounds in Toronto’s loss to Cleveland.
The Raptors played without 10 players that landed in thecl NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, including top scorer Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and NBA Rookie of the Year contender Scott Barnes.
With the defeat, the Raptors fell to 11th place in the East at 14-16.
Meanwhile, the only other Japanese-born player in the league, Washington’s Rui Hachimura, has yet to play a game with the Wizards this season for personal reasons.
Hachimura had suited up for his native country during the Tokyo Olympics in July but did not show up for the Wizards’ training camp and thereafter, returning only to the NBA club in recent days ago for conditioning activities.