It’s only 1-0: Spurs, Raptors look to rebound from routs

Even the San Antonio Spurs get blown out sometimes.

So do the Toronto Raptors, every time they play a post-season game in Cleveland.

But the huge deficits they faced on the scoreboard Monday have been erased, and the only deficit that matters now is a minor one.

No matter how bad it looked, it’s still just 1-0.

“We’ve been in all these situations before — won by a lot, lost by a lot,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Everybody knows, they’re all pros. You go to the next game and see if you can get it right.”

The Spurs’ 126-99 loss to Houston to start the Western Conference semifinals was their worst ever under Popovich in a series opener. They trailed by as much as 39 points and were buried under an avalanche of 22 3-pointers by a Rockets team that made more than anyone in NBA history during the regular season.

“It’s definitely tough to take. You never want to lose a game like that, especially in the playoffs,” Spurs guard Patty Mills said. “But lose by 40, lose by two, at the end of the day, it’s a loss. It’s the first game of a long series.”

The Raptors’ 116-105 loss to open the second round was their closest yet in Cleveland in the playoffs, after falling by 31, 19 and 38 during last year’s Eastern Conference finals. Maybe that’s why coach Dwane Casey was so easily able to downplay it Tuesday.

“It wasn’t as bad as it felt going through it. And it wasn’t as bad — somebody last night said ‘dominated.’ There are things we can do better to take away that feeling,” Casey said. “They’re a very good team. We all know that. We’re a good team, too. We had the same record. We have to go in with that confidence and that feeling and say, ‘Hey, they put their pants on one leg at a time, too, and one shoe at a time.’”

A look at the games on Wednesday’s schedule:


Raptors at Cavaliers, Cleveland leads 1-0. Game 2, 7 p.m., TNT

NEED TO KNOW: The Cavaliers are 5-0 in this post-season and 29-4 against Eastern Conference opponents dating to 2015. The Raptors handed them two of those losses last year in Toronto but they’ve been overwhelmed in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers have won the four post-season matchups by an average of 24.8 points.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Who else? LeBron James. James scored 35 points in the opener and if he matches that would move into second place on a pair of post-season scoring lists. He’s 24 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762) in career points and tied with Kobe Bryant with 88 30-point games.

INJURY UPDATE: Cavs guard J.R. Smith said the team’s medical staff told him there was no structural damage to his surgically repaired right thumb after he banged it in the first half of Game 1.

PRESSURE IS ON: DeMar DeRozan. His quiet 19 points Monday were more than eight under his regular-season average, and probably well below what the Raptors need to have a shot in the series.


Rockets at Spurs, Houston leads 1-0. Game 2, 9:30 p.m., TNT

NEED TO KNOW: The Rockets’ rout in Game 1 was nothing like the season series between the Texas teams and Southwest Division rivals. San Antonio won by two, two and six points, while Houston’s victory was also by two points. So the Rockets expect a much different game Wednesday. “They’ll respond,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Like I told the guys, we won one that’s all that’s happened, and now we have an opportunity. They’ve got to defend their home court again, we have an opportunity to really get into them, but there will be a reaction and we’ll just see how tough we are, see if we can hang in there.”

KEEP AN EYE ON: The 3-point line. The Spurs largely took it away from the Rockets during the regular season, limiting them to 29.2 per cent shooting. But if Houston can get free like it did in going 22 for 50 in Game 1, San Antonio will be in big trouble.

INJURY UPDATE: None to report.

PRESSURE IS ON: LaMarcus Aldridge. His four-point performance in Game 1 was his worst in the post-season since coming to San Antonio, and the Spurs have little hope of controlling the tempo if they can’t count on their power forward.

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