The Raptors showed a renewed spirit and defensive intensity at home last week, but can they carry it over to Cleveland?
Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Mickael Pietrus, Ed Davis, Jonas Valanciunas
Cleveland: Kyrie Irving, C.J. Miles, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao
Toronto: Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry are still out
Cleveland: Luke Harangody is out, while Omri Casspi is questionable
- Landry Fields returns to the Raptors lineup tonight, but don’t expect him to simply be handed minutes. Alan Anderson, Terrence Ross and Mickael Pietrus are all giving the Raptors at least decent minutes at the wing, and DeMar DeRozan is pretty much locked into full starter’s minutes. It would be great to see Fields get some time and knock down a few shots to start convincing us that his early season struggles really were the result of the ulnar nerve entrapment, but I’d like him to earn that opportunity, not just walk into it. For the Cavs, rookie Dion Waiters returns to the lineup from injury.
- When he suits up for Canada, I want Tristan Thompson to be great, and as a Canadian in general, I hope the guy has a long and productive NBA career, but I also hope that Jonas Valanciunas has a good game tonight in Cleveland to remind fans there what their team passed up on with the No. 4 pick in 2011 (even if JV doesn’t have a good game tonight, he still should have been the obvious choice for the Cavs at No. 4). As I’ve said before, I think the Cavs had a chance to build a legitimate championship core through the draft with a No. 1 pick in 2011 and No. 4 picks in 2011 and 2012, because they should have selected Valanciunas and Harrison Barnes with those No. 4 picks to pair with Kyrie Irving. Waiters and Thompson can both be good NBA players, but I don’t think they can come close to touching the ceiling Cleveland would have had with an Irving/Barnes/Valanciunas trifecta. Tonight’s results won’t change my mind about any of this, but now that I’ve ranted about it, watch Waiters and Thompson come up big and be the deciding factors in this game. God, I hope not.
- I know beating the Cavs is never anything to write home about, but given that the Raptors haven’t looked capable of beating anybody on the road recently, taking care of Cleveland really would be a start. Having said that, Irving should be the best player on the floor tonight (I know he struggled against Toronto as a rookie, but come on…) and I don’t see the Raptors having an answer for Anderson Varejao, so since they haven’t proven anything on the road yet, I’m going to expect a loss. Prove me wrong, fellas…