Despite the doom and gloom talk over the past few weeks leading to the trade deadline, the Toronto Raptors now find themselves with their best stretch of the season. They are 11-3 over their last fourteen games, sitting in the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Raptors don’t have a lot of room for a mistake from here on out, even if the bare-minimum goal is to maintain being in the play-in range.
A win against the Cleveland Cavaliers should keep the Raptors’ hope of getting to the 7th or 6th seed plausible, as they need to get as many wins as possible, given the tough road trip ahead that could define the fate of this team.
The Raptors will have their hands full trying to contain the Cavaliers’ backcourt. The game plan through three games has always been about slowing down Donovan Mitchell, whose 17 points in the series is well below his average for the season. However, Darius Garland has been heating up over the last three games, averaging 27.3 points and hitting at least 47% from behind the arc.
Fred VanVleet remains to be out for tonight’s game with a new member of their family. Could this be??? We all know what happened the last time the VanVleets delivered another trophy baby during the season. On a side note, coach Nick Nurse will have more people riding the pine tonight, as the Raptors recalled Dalano Banton and Christian Koloko from the Raptors 905 and should be available tonight.
Can the Raptors get a big game from Scottie Barnes against his ROTY rival Evan Mobley? This is one of the subplots of this series, as comparisons between the two will likely stick around for the length of their career. However, what the Raptors probably need the most right now is OG Anunoby’s return to form, as he hasn’t found his rhythm offensively, and the team will need his perimeter shooting. It’ll be tough to see several successful Siakam Swirls (not a paid AD) if there’s no spacing available for him to operate, as Siakam looks rejuvenated over the last six games, averaging 30.2 points, six rebounds, and 5.5 assists. Can his teammates give Siakam enough spacing without Fred VanVleet tonight?
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet, 6:00pm ET
Toronto – Gary Trent Jr, O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, Jakob Poeltl
Cleveland – Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Isaac Okoro, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Toronto – Otto Porter Jr. (toe – out), Fred VanVleet (personal – out), Ron Harper Jr. (G League – out),
Cleveland – Dyland Windler (G League Assignment – out), Mamadi Diakite (G League – out), Isaiah Mobley (G League – out)