The Raptors look to bounce back from a listless performance against the Wizards when they take on the Irving-less Cavaliers in Cleveland.
Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas
Cleveland: Shaun Livingston, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller
Toronto: Linas Kleiza is out
Cleveland: Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, Omri Casspi and Luke Harangody are all out
- The Cavs pulled off one of the upsets of the season last night by beating the Bulls in Chicago without Kyrie Irving and the Raptors are coming off a discouraging home loss to the Wizards, but nonetheless, with the Irving-less Cavs on the second night of a back-to-back, the Raptors must capitalize and put this game away early. A hiccup tonight would be a far more embarrassing result than the loss to Washington.
- The Raptors have been one of the NBA’s best defensive teams in February, while the Cavs have been one of the East’s best offensive teams this month. Yes, Cleveland scored 101 points in Chicago last night, but again, on the second night of a back to back without Irving, the Raptors should take it very personally if they can’t stop this Cleveland team that starts two rookies, Tristan Thompson, Alonzo Gee and Shaun Livingston.
- I think we’re all pretty curious to see how Rudy Gay approaches this game. Gay was awful offensively on Monday and didn’t seem all that interested in attacking the Wizards. He’s been given a golden opportunity to redeem himself with the defensively inept Cavs on tap, and when you look at the lineups tonight, there’s no reason Rudy shouldn’t be far and away the best player on the floor. Here’s hoping that watching his performance against Washington again woke him up.
- After playing just 18 minutes against the Wizards, I’m hoping Jonas Valanciunas gets much more time against the Cavs. As mentioned on Monday’s podcast, Valanciunas has been playing solid ball on both ends of the floor since returning to the lineup, and without a dominating veteran presence in the Cleveland frontcourt (Thompson, Zeller and Marreese Speights log the big man minutes with Varejao out), there’s no reason for Dwane Casey to shy away from Jonas unless the rookie gets himself in foul trouble.
- If you think you’re feeling too confident about this game and need to be brought back down to earth a little bit, consider that with Cleveland’s win in Chicago last night and Milwaukee’s win in Dallas, the Raptors are actually closer to the Cavs in the standings (4.0 games) than they are to the eighth place Bucks (5.0 games).