Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (5-20) vs. Toronto Raptors (6-19)
When? 7:00 PM Eastern
Where? Quicken Loans Arena -- Cleveland, OH
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBA League Pass
Tickets available? Cleveland Cavaliers tickets
Enemy/brother blog? Raptors HQ
What's the line? Cleveland -4.5
The Toronto Raptors visit Cleveland tonight to help the Cavaliers kick off another four games in five days stretch. Why this keeps happening, I do not know. It is pretty ridiculous, and has at least something to do with the fact that the Cavaliers have the second worst record in basketball. There are no excuses for this one, though, as the Raptors are not good and are missing Kyle Lowry and Andrea Bargnani. Bargnani may actually be addition by subtraction, and Toronto has actually pulled off two straight wins. Jose Calderon has filled in for Lowry and has been fantastic, pulling off a triple-double in a win over Houston Sunday.
Toronto has actually given Cleveland fits the last two seasons, and Kyrie Irving has struggled on several occasions in this matchup. I have seen speculation that perhaps it is the length of Calderon that causes problems for Irving. That seems as good a guess as any, though I really just think its a small sample size. Toronto took 3 of 4 from the Cavaliers last season, including two wins in Cleveland.
The Cavaliers get Dion Waiters back, which should be helpful. I think most of us are pretty patient with the rebuild the team is going through, but it gets a lot more frustrating to watch when the young players like Kyrie and Dion can't play. Waiters was actually cleared to play for Friday's game but Coach Byron Scott has a long-standing policy that in order to play you must complete a full practice, and the team's schedule didn't allow that until Monday. Dion says he knows the mid-range jumpers aren't really the bread and butter of his game and he needs to attack more. Amen, I say. I will have a post later this week on early thoughts from watching Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters play off of each other. Because of C.J. Miles' recent success, it isn't really clear whether Waiters will start tonight.
Ok, lets do some bullet points on things to watch:
- The Irving-Calderon matchup should be interesting. As I mentioned earlier, the Dark Knight has struggled a little bit against the Spaniard. Here is hoping that ends.
- Ed Davis has had a few really good games at power forward for Toronto. Will be interesting to see how Tristan and Co. do defensively. The 23 year old could be popular around the trade deadline.
- Alonzo Gee's shooting has been awful, really all season. He logs heavy minutes, has to defend the other team's best wing, and is asked to do way more than he can handle offensively, so in some respects he gets a free pass. But 28% three point shooting isn't good enough. Asking him to keep developing may be too much to ask; at this point, what you see might be what you get.
- Tyler Zeller has been pretty inconsistent all year. I hear Cavs fans on twitter and elsewhere who want him in the starting lineup, and it is hard for me to understand. His PER is lower than Tristan Thompson's, and his defense isn't in the same league. But he is a rookie big, has gotten hammered inside consistently, has been tough, displays (sometimes) a pretty midrange jumper, and has looked terrific in stretches. We have seen more than enough from Zeller to think that he will be a productive Cavalier for a long time. He just isn't there yet, and that is fine.
- Can C.J. Miles continue to shoot lights out? The answer is probably no, but he is a hard guy not to root for. I hope he plays well enough for the rest of the year that the team picks up his option next year. He seems like a great guy.