The Raptors host All-Star Kyrie Irving and the Cavs in a rare Saturday night home game at the ACC.
Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson
Cleveland: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller
Toronto: Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas are out, while Linas Kleiza and Mickael Pietrus are, like I said last game, forever questionable
Cleveland: Anderson Varejao and Luke Harangody are out, while C.J. Miles is questionable
- The Raptors have already beaten the Cavs in Cleveland this season, the Cavs are 6-20 on the road and they’re on the second night of a back-to-back (they beat Milwaukee in Cleveland last night), so it’s no surprise that the Raps were favourite by 6.5 the last time I checked. But having said all of that, teams like Cleveland always worry me despite their record because they have a few guys who can get inexplicably hot on any given night. Kyrie Irving is a legitimate All-Star and has evolved into one of the league’s top-20 players already, Dion Waiters is inconsistent but can fill the bucket on one of those aforementioned hot nights, and even a guy like Gibson can turn the game around with his shooting. The Raptors should win this game and I expect them too, but if any of those three players start shooting the lights out, the Raps could be in trouble.
- Keep an eye on Canadian big man Tristan Thompson tonight. I still think Cleveland made a big mistake drafting him No. 4 overall and I find he often looks a bit awkward on offence, but the guy has improved drastically just over the course of this season alone. He’s already better than what he was when the Raptors were in Cleveland in December, and I’m interested to see how he performs in front of his hometown crowd.
- Not sure if you saw this last night, but CBS’ Ken Berger wrote that “Toronto is perhaps the most realistic landing spot for (Pau) Gasol” (Bargnani is suggested as going back the other way) and then later added that “league sources say the Raptors are far more amenable to trading Kyle Lowry” rather than Jose Calderon. This isn’t the first we’ve heard of these rumours, as the Bargnani/Gasol stuff was out there heavily a couple of months ago and Sam Smith wrote about the possibility of the Raptors trading Lowry earlier this season. Personally, while I still believe Gasol can be effective as a No. 1 post option again and while I maintain that he’s underused and under-appreciated in L.A., the play of Ed Davis, especially, has changed my mind about acquiring the veteran big man. In addition, trading Lowry and keeping Calderon would be a ridiculously short-sighted move by Toronto’s management team. While I want the Raptors to find value for Bargnani and Calderon in a trade, if there’s no good deals to be made or if the only decent deals out there would hurt the development of the Raptors’ younger players, I’d be happier to just let Calderon walk in the off-season and amnesty Bargnani at that time, though I seriously doubt MLSE would ever let amnestying a $10 million player fly.
- I don’t think Oliver or I will be able to post our thoughts on tonight’s game later tonight, so feel free to leave your own comments, opinions and observations from the game (and on Berger’s report) in the comment section below.