- The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly have a standing $US100 fine for players who fall for Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan’s pump fakes.
- The threat seemed to work on Tuesday when Cavs center Tristan Thompson guarded DeRozan in the closing moments of the game, refusing to fall for two pump fakes, forcing DeRozan to give up the ball on the game-deciding possession.
- The Cavs’ defence helped them seal a comeback to win Game 1 of the series and steal back home-court advantage.
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue is going to a new level to make sure his team doesn’t commit silly fouls against the Toronto Raptors.
After the Cavaliers pulled off a comeback win on Tuesday to take Game 1 of the semifinals over the Raptors, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the Cavs have a standing $US100 fine for players who bite on Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan’s pump-fakes.
The rule turned out to be a good one. In overtime, with the Raptors trailing by one with 10 seconds remaining, DeRozan drove to his right with the Cavs’ Tristan Thompson on him. When DeRozan got to the right block, he threw several pump fakes at Thompson before kicking it out to guard Fred Van Vleet, who missed the game-winning three-point attempt.
Thompson didn’t fall for any of the fakes.
After the game, Thompson said: “I’m not trying to give up that money. I just had a kid, so I’m just trying to save up for their college tuition.”
In general, the Cavs, who have been lacklustre on defence this season, defended DeRozan well. Though DeRozan shot 9-of-18 for 20 points, he only attempted three free throws, a downgrade from the six attempts he averaged in the regular season.
The Cavs’ win was a convincing one, despite the close score. They trailed the Raptors for over 47 minutes, suffered through a rare off-night from LeBron James, yet got big enough contributions from the supporting cast to pull out the win, their fourth straight in Toronto in the postseason.
It’s a running theme. The Raptors have been eliminated by the Cavs in the last two playoffs, hardly putting up a convincing fight either time (2016’s series went six games, but the Cavs had let up off the gas in their two losses). The Raptors looked to have changed things around this season when they remodeled their offence and racked up an Eastern Conference-leading 59 wins.
On Tuesday, their struggles were all too familiar – stagnant offence, helplessness with dealing with LeBron James, and an inability to close.
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