There was a time earlier this decade when a Friday night game between the Raptors and the Cavs was a spectacle, one of the NBA’s main events. The match-up has fallen on hard times a bit over the last couple years, but with the infusion of Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley into both team’s rosters — and the former’s official return from injury coming tonight — Toronto v. Cleveland feels like it matters again. Hell, tonight could be about the lowest-stakes confrontation between Barnes and Mobley we could see over the next how ever many years of Eastern Conference basketball.
Cleveland enters action a surprising 5-4, sporting the league’s 19th-best offense and 11th-ranked defense, with a NET Rating of just -0.2 points per 100 possessions. Toronto, winners of five-straight, sits 14th in offense (a rounding error out of 11th) and comes into the game sixth in both defensive and NET rating.
You can read the full game preview from our guy JD right here.
As far as pre-game updates from coach Nick Nurse, the nugget that should get folks excited is the word that Pascal Siakam could return to action as early as next week. Nurse suggested he’s not quite sure in which capacity Siakam will be available, and that a minutes restriction is likely, but he noted the two off days following Sunday’s matinee with the Nets could help clarify when and where the Raptors’ best player will slot in. Weeeeeeee.
Here’s what else you need to know going into Toronto’s 10th game of the season.
Where to Watch
Sportsnet One, 7:30pm ET
Cleveland — Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Dean Wade, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Toronto — Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa
Cleveland — Isaac Okoro (hamstring — OUT), Lauri Markkanen (healthy & safety protocols — OUT), Kevin Love (health & safety protocols — OUT)
Toronto — Pascal Siakam (shoulder — OUT), Yuta Watanabe (calf — OUT)