The Cavs are clinging to the three-seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race for dear life. It’s crazy to need to care about playoff position this late in the season, but despite an 8-2 stretch in their last 10 games, the Cavs have actually lost ground on the 76ers, who currently sport a 10-game win streak. The Pacers are no easier, with a five-game win streak of their own. SHEESH.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Enemy Blog: Raptors HQ
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
Online: NBA League Pass, Fox Sports Go
Cavaliers injuries: Kevin Love (QUESTIONABLE - illness), Kyle Korver (QUESTIONABLE - foot soreness), George Hill (OUT - ankle)
Raptors injuries: None to report
Three keys to the game
- It continues to be put into the universe for everybody to see that the Raptors don’t even have somebody who can kind of slow down LeBron James. Their best bet might be Pascal Siakam, but placing him on LeBron leaves Kevin Love guarded by a center more often than not, and that has been a situation he’s feasted on all year (if he plays through an illness on Tuesday night). Dwyane Casey just doesn’t have the right roster construction to slow down James.
- The Raptors bench straight up destroyed the Cavaliers bench in the last game. That’s no surprise - they might be the best second unit in the entire NBA. The Cavaliers should have a bit more punching power in response this time, as they were missing five players in the last outing. Larry Nance and Tristan Thompson should help on the boards against Jakob Poeltl, who just ate the Cavaliers alive in the paint.
- Toronto’s backcourt remains as potent as ever, and the Cavs are really going to miss George Hill’s defense on Kyle Lowry. He’s long, smart and won’t fall for Lowry’s tricks, and while Lowry shot the cover off the ball in the last meeting, he didn’t carve the Cavaliers up in the paint. We’ll see how Jose Calderon and Rodney Hood manage.
If Kevin Love suits up, then he’ll continue to be an enormous problem for just about every primary Raptor defender. Serge Ibaka in theory should be the perfect guy to guard him, but it just hasn’t manifested that way in the past two seasons. If Love is able to play at a high level despite an illness, he should feast.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Cavaliers need the win in a way the Raptors don’t, but are still not playing with a full deck of cards. Cavs win 117-114.