The Toronto Raptors head into Cleveland tonight, beginning a two-game road trip as they face the Cavaliers.
It’s the first matchup between these two conference rivals and Toronto’s only trip to Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse this season. Both teams sit at 8-8 on the season and currently make up the last two play-in spots in the Eastern Conference. If you had told Cavs fans heading into the season that they would be tied in wins with the Raptors in their first matchup, the assumption would’ve likely been that the Raptors were massively over-performing.
Instead, Cleveland has not taken the leap that was expected of them. They’ve dropped both of their last two matchups after finally getting hot and winning four in a row. Many of their struggles this season can be drawn up to injuries and with Darius Garland being officially designated as active for tonight’s game, all of the Cavs starters are healthy and playing tonight.
Even with a full bill of health, this Cavs team is still largely similar to the one from last season. They’ve added improved shooting on the wings with Max Strus and Georges Niang, but the remainder of the team is strikingly similar. Last season, Toronto won the season series 3-1 against Cleveland.
Toronto has seen some improvements in its recent games, knocking off the high-scoring Indiana Pacers and winning their first ever In-Season Tournament game against the Chicago Bulls. Their key to success this season has been the play of Pascal Siakam, who posted 36 points against Indiana and followed it up with a tied-season high eight assists. Despite Cleveland’s very tall front court of Mobley and Allen, Siakam has done a great job hunting mismatches in the post with smaller defenders guarding him. The Cavs have one of the smaller back courts in the league in Garland and Mitchell, which Toronto will look to target and use their size to their advantage.
How to Watch:
Sportsnet, at 7:30 pm ET
Toronto: Dennis Schroder, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl
Cleveland: Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Toronto: Christian Koloko (Out - Respiratory Issue), Gradey Dick (Out - On Assignment)
Cleveland: Ricky Rubio (Out - Away From Team), Ty Jerome (Out - Ankle), Dean Wade (Out - Ankle)