Let’s just get this out of the way right now — that was absolutely horrible defense by the Raptors.
Kyrie Irving hit the game-winning shot from three-point distance with just 0.7 seconds remaining to give his Cavaliers the 99-98 victory in Toronto. The win was Cleveland’s third straight and fourth in its last five games.
This one had to hurt for the Raptors, considering the fact that they held a lead of 11 points a minute into the fourth quarter. At home, against a team near the bottom of the standings, these are the games that you’re supposed to close out.
But Cleveland put together a 12-0 run in about two and a half minutes to make it a contest once again, and the teams essentially went back and forth the rest of the way.
Now, about that final shot from Irving.
The Raptors have to know he’s going to be the one to take the last shot, and Alan Anderson who was (technically) defending has to be aware of the time remaining and the score of the game.
With the way that Irving calmly walked the ball up the floor, and didn’t bother attempting to get into the paint even as we reached less than three seconds remaining in the game, Anderson has to push up and guard the game-winner there. Even if Irving gets past him on the drive and no help defense arrives in time, so what? The game would be tied, and his team would still have a chance to win in the overtime session.
Instead, the fear of Irving’s penetration overcame common sense. And while Irving still had to come up big by making the shot, the way the Raptors chose to defend in that situation sure made it easy for him to get a clean look.