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This is what a doomsday scenario looks like.
Marred by COVID-19 absences, the Toronto Raptors travelled to Cleveland on Boxing Day with four of their regular NBA roster players available and four 10-day contract signees who'd never been with the team before.
It wasn't until a few hours before the game against the Cavaliers that the Raptors even confirmed they would have the league-minimum eight players available for Sunday's game. But they did. And they played. And it wasn't pretty.
Toronto’s starting lineup tonight:
Chris Boucher pic.twitter.com/TDz8urAsro
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) December 26, 2021
Toronto fell just short of making the worst kind of history, losing to Cleveland 144-99 and almost matching its worst-ever franchise loss.
The Toronto Raptors, December 26 2021 pic.twitter.com/OM9nHfIKiL
— Ailish Forfar (@ailishforfar) December 26, 2021
Sunday's pre-game shootaround in Cleveland was the first time the group had even been on a basketball court at the same time. Unable to practice, much less go over any specific game plan, the eight Raptors took the floor in the hopes of maintaining some sense of togetherness.
nick gonna use this timeout to play icebreaker games so everyone gets to know each other
— William Lou (@william_lou) December 26, 2021
The result was pure chaos.
Welp, in the words of Fred VanVleet :
“Have fun with it.”#rtz
— Kayla Grey (@Kayla_Grey) December 26, 2021
give me all the choose your own adventure possessions tonight
— Vivek Jacob (@vivekmjacob) December 26, 2021
— Reformed Grinch (@beavenhauser) December 26, 2021
the ALL CHAOS ALL THE TIME approach is working for the raptors.
— Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack) December 26, 2021
If the Raptors lead after the first quarter, I’m counting this as a win.
— Raptors Report (@RapsReport) December 26, 2021
Led by Chris Boucher and Yuta Watanabe, the Raptors miraculously trailed by only one point after the first quarter. Watanabe's double-double was the highlight of the night for Toronto, as he finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds over 37:10 minutes.
Recently signed forward D.J. Wilson also put up solid numbers, netting 15 points in 33:44 minutes.
From the second quarter onward, however, all hell broke loose.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) December 27, 2021
Cavs rolling, hardly a surprise
Four guys who are trying to make a life-changing impression on a league are giving it their best shot
— Doug Smith: Raptors (@SmithRaps) December 27, 2021
The Cavs, who were missing three starters of their own due to COVID-19, took control of the game and put the nail in the coffin with a 47-point third period.
When all was said and done, Toronto hung on just enough to finish a point short of matching the worst loss in franchise history.
Cavs win, 144-99, over depleted Raptors. Toronto avoids matching its worst loss in franchise history by 1 point. It's the team's 2nd-worst loss ever.
Makeshift roster made up of 4 regular reserves + 4 replacement players, who met for the first time 90 mins before tip. So, yeah.
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) December 27, 2021
CAVS GET RAPTORS 70% OFF ON BOXING DAY. WIN BY 45.
— alex (@steven_lebron) December 27, 2021
After the loss, there were those who chose to look ahead.
Protocols permitting, Raptors will actually get a practice with this group tomorrow before Tues game.
Nick Nurse also indicated a few guys could be close to clearing protocols, but obviously things are fluid.
Better days ahead, including better situations for the new guys.
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) December 27, 2021
While others picked the route of questioning how a game like that was even allowed to go on in the first place.
That was quite the display of "NBA Basketball"
— Mike Koreen (@Mkor1980) December 27, 2021
Adam Silver the next time he crosses the Canadian border pic.twitter.com/fJLbgWOzsa
— Libaan Osman (@libaanstar1) December 27, 2021
Regardless of the result, the internet had a lot of love for the eight guys on the court for the Raptors on Sunday night.
Still impressive for the Raptors with half the game roster on 10 day hardship contracts scored 99 points. #WeTheNorth
— Jeff Ferrara🎥📸 (@JFerraraF18) December 27, 2021
TREMONT WATERS OVER EVERYTHING
— alex (@steven_lebron) December 26, 2021
Shoutout all the guys filling in to keep this season going - from unknown guys to the vets I hope everybody take advantage of the opportunity 💯🎲
— Fred VanVleet (@FredVanVleet) December 26, 2021
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