In years past, Cavs-Raptors would have been a playoff preview of sorts. This year, as it was last year, this is not that. And unlike the post-LeBron James Cavs, the Raptors are still good post Kawhi Leonard. Let’s get into it.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (6-20) at Toronto Raptors (17-8)
Where: Scotiabank Arena — Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When: 7:30 p.m.
Betting Line: Cavs are 13-point underdogs, per OddsShark
Enemy Blog: RaptorsHQ
Cavs expected starters: Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson
Raptors expected starters: Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol
Cavs inactives: Dylan Windler (OUT - left leg), Dean Wade (with Canton Charge), Tyler Cook (with Canton Charge)
Raptors inactives: Matt Thomas (OUT - broken finger), Stanley Johnson (OUT - groin), Fred VanVleet (TBD - right knee)
Three things to watch
What will Kevin Love’s impact be? Love had an off night Saturday against Milwaukee, going 4-10 from the field with Giannis Antetokounmpo following him around for most of the game. Something similar seems likely with Pascal Siakam on Love Monday. Siakam isn’t quite Giannis, but he’s really good and has the same type of frame with athleticism to boot. How the Cavs approach this will be interesting, as Love playing well is vital to the team functioning.
This is going to be a test for Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, particularly if Fred VanVleet plays. VanVleet and Kyle Lowry are good and both are good defenders. Depending on how the matchups shakeout, either Cavs guard is going to have issues in getting into the paint and finding easy buckets. For Sexton in particular, this might be a game for him to look a bit less for his shot and throw the Raptors a different look.
The Raptors aren’t at their best right now. Per Cleaning The Glass, Toronto is 25th in offense over the last two weeks. (For reference, Cleveland is tied for dead last last over that same stretch.) So from a certain point of view, maybe the Cavs are getting a Raptors team not playing at its best and maybe this is a more winnable game than it would have been before various injuries and rotation issues started affecting the Raptors. The problem is that defense isn’t exactly the Cavs’ strong suit — they are 27th in defense for the year and 28th over the last two weeks — so this might be more of a bounce back game for the Raptors than anything.
Fear the Sword’s fearless prediction
Toronto is just better even if it isn’t playing its best basketball right now. Raptors 105, Cavs 93.