Cleveland Cavaliers build their case for contention after win against Toronto

Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers
Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Even after the Cleveland Cavaliers embarked on a three-game road trip and played in just one home game to start the month of February, their recent win streak still holds strong.

A once-turbulent season has seen the Cavs steady themselves with two win streaks of eight games or more. Cavs center Jarrett Allen highlighted the highs and lows of the NBA after Cleveland earned its eighth-straight win in a victory against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday. He earned 14 points and 10 rebounds in the Cavs' 118-95 win over the Nets at the Barclays Center.

"The league is full of highs and lows, so you've just got to ride the wave. That's what the Cavs' motto basically is: ride the wave. When the highs are high, you've got to enjoy the moment, you've got to have fun. When the lows are low, you've got to just stick with the grind and try to get back up."

Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen

A recent Cavalanche continued in a Saturday win over Toronto

Cleveland rode what seems to be building into a tidal wave to its ninth-straight win with a 119-95 victory over the Toronto Raptors. The Cavs have taken victories in three countries this year with their win in Toronto and one win in Paris, France. Allen led the charge with an 18-point, 15-rebound double-double in 30 minutes of play on Saturday, hitting nine of his 12 shot attempts as he dominated the paint. The duo of Allen and forward Evan Mobley combined for 30 points in the paint and eight second-chance points.

Mobley, who needed to play a key role for the Cavs in a potential win over Toronto, added 17 points and 11 rebounds. It would be the 22-year-old forward's fourth double-double in five games and his 16th of the season. Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, who was taken one selection after Mobley in the 2021 NBA Draft, notched a triple-double for Toronto with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. The 2021-22 Rookie of the Year led the Raptors in all three categories.

Allen used his size and leverage driving to the basket to dominate the interior on offense. He charged inside for easy floaters, dunks and alley-oop completions against Toronto's interior defenders off quick passes and through the pick-and-roll. The one-time All-Star brought down six offensive rebounds, marking the eighth time he logged six o-boards or more this season.

Cleveland's defense would keep it on pace with the Raptors before exploding on offense in the second quarter. It limited Toronto to 39.1 percent from the field in the first quarter and 35 percent in the second while countering with 67 points and 55.1 percent from the floor in the first half. The Cavs would hold the Raptors to their first sub-100-point performance since a matchup against the Boston Celtics at Scotiabank Arena last month. Both squads finished the night nearly even in turnovers and points off turnovers.

The Cavs continued the unselfish play that helped pave the way to their recent win streaks. Cleveland's free-flowing and dynamic offense led to 36 assists, including seven from forward Max Strus, as it found open opportunities in transition, drives to the hoop and tough perimeter jumpers off the dribble. It would be one away from the season-high it set in a January win over the Washington Wizards, a game that saw Allen lead the Cavs with 19 rebounds and seven assists.

Cleveland has won nine of its last 10 games and 17 of its last 20. It moves to 2-1 against the Raptors and 23-10 against Eastern Conference opponents while carving out its longest winning streak of the season. The Cavs sit at 4.5 games behind the Boston Celtics for second place in the East and two ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for first place in the Central Division. They have only lost two games since the start of 2024, a stark improvement from their 11-8 record through their first 19 games of 2023.

The Cavs will return to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to face the Philadelphia 76ers at 7:00 p.m. EST on Monday. The game will be broadcast on Bally Sports Ohio.

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