When LeBron James gives you praise, it’s wise not to take it at face value. Like all the greats before him who manipulated the media, LeBron knows when it’s in his advantage to heap compliments on another team. Sometimes, it’s a motivating tactic for his teammates. Other times, it’s a plea for the opponent not to take his poor, young team seriously.
LeBron on Raptors: "They're in a better place than we are right now because they've had more consistency and they've had their guys in the lineup for the majority of the year. So they know who they are and we're still trying to figure that out." pic.twitter.com/f2paNqspc0— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) March 21, 2018
LeBron James just listed off the Raptors bench by name as reasons why Toronto is better than Cleveland and that scares the hell out of me.— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) March 21, 2018
The Raptors are wise enough to this. They know what losing to LeBron is like, having gone through it the last two post-seasons. They’re also wise to the fact that they come into tonight’s matchup the better team — they come in 11.5 games(!) ahead of the Cavaliers, wreaking havoc while the Cavs have reeked of inconsistency.
Toronto has every right to come into these matchups confident. And yet... it’s LeBron. We know what he can do, especially after Cleveland’s last outing, when James became the oldest player to record a triple-double with 40 or more points. Goddamn.
Should the Raptors be afraid of LeBron? Sure, but to a healthy degree. Toronto comes at you in waves, Cleveland comes at you like a battering ram. There’s no more Kyrie, Kevin Love is working his way back into shape, and the highly touted post-deadline supporting cast is mis-shapen and injured. That includes tonight, as Kyle Korver, Rodney Hood and Tristan Thompson will all miss the game for different reasons.
As for the Toronto side:
Status update, tonight at Cleveland: Fred VanVleet and DeMar DeRozan are available. CJ Miles is out (gastroenteritis).— RaptorsMR (@RaptorsMR) March 21, 2018
Tonight, we’ll get to see a bit of a likely playoff series down the road. There’s no reason to fear, let’s just enjoy the entertainment.
Check out the game preview from Sully Akbari, and read the game details below.
Where to Watch
Sportsnet One, 7 PM ET
Toronto - Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas
Cleveland - George Hill, Jose Calderon, LeBron James, Jeff Green, Kevin Love
Toronto - C.J. Miles (flu - game time decision)
Cleveland - Rodney Hood (back - out), Larry Nance Jr. (hamstring - out), Cedi Osman (hip - out), Tristan Thompson (ankle - out), Kyle Korver (personal - out)