Game 58: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors Preview

Feb 21, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson (13) reacts to a foul against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

LAST TIME OUT

The Cavs fell at home to the Washington Wizards. The two teams battled for the first three quarters but in the crucial final quarter, the Cavaliers faltered. They scored a measly 11 points in the last frame and shot 4-19 from the field, which opened the door for a Washington victory. Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles all watched the game in street clothes Sunday, as they battled with injuries. Luol Deng led the team with 17 points and seven rebounds. Spencer Hawes contributed 16 points and 12 rebounds. The team sits a full five games back from the final playoff spot in the East.

THIS TIME UP

The Opponent: Toronto Raptors

Record: 31-25

Tipoff: February 25th at 7:00 p.m. – Quicken Loans Arena

Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio

Where you can listen: WTAM 1100

Previous Meeting: Toronto 98, Cavaliers 91 on February 21st

Opponent’s Blog: Raptors Rapture

Injury Report

Raptors: PF Amir Johnson (QUESTIONABLE- ankle)

Cavaliers: SF C.J. Miles (OUT- ankle), C Anderson Varejao (OUT- back), SG Dion Waiters (OUT- knee), SG Carrick Felix (OUT- knee)

Get Back on Track

It’s now or never for the Cavaliers. With 25 games remaining on the schedule, they sit out of the final spot by a full five games. They can’t afford to lose this game, which would be their third straight after winning six in a row. Now granted, if Andy, Dion, and C.J. cannot go for the second game in a row, it will be tough to win. What we saw in the fourth quarter against Washington is not what we should expect from a team making a playoff run. Toronto is a very good defense team so baskets will not be easy. The Cavs must attack the rim and take any high percentage look that the defense allows in order to rekindle their winning ways.

Playoff Caliber Basketball

“In order to be the best, you have to beat the best,” the old saying goes. Now, I am in no way saying the Cavs are the best team or even close to it, but if they expect to make the playoffs, they are going to have to beat teams better than them. The Raptors are one of those teams. They currently hold on to the third seed in the Eastern Conference. They need this victory tonight, because on Wednesday night they play Oklahoma City. If they drop the game tonight, the face the strong possibility of losing four straight, making the eighth seed farther away than it already is. Cleveland needs to string together 48 quality minutes tonight. They played a wonderful first half last time out against Toronto, but a dismal third period cost them. If they are going to have a chance at the postseason, they need to start beating playoff caliber teams and it can start tonight against the Raptors.

 Hawes vs. Valanciunas

Although they both have been losses, Spencer Hawes has impressed in his first two games since joining the Cavaliers. I am looking forward to watching him play for the team. Tonight, he has an important matchup against Toronto’s big man Jonas Valanciunas. First off, I hope Mike Brown gives Hawes the start so he can start the game on Valanciunas. His strong third quarter Friday against the Cavaliers helped propel the Raptors past the streaking Cavaliers. I know Hawes isn’t known as the best defender but he is going to have to do a better job against Valanciunas on the instead. I will be watching closely to see if anything changed on how he is going defend him. The more easy baskets on the inside and rebounds Valanciunas is allowed makes it that much more difficult for the Cavs to beat the Raptors and it starts on the inside with the newest Cavalier, Spencer Hawes.

Prediction

With Varejao, Miles and Waiters out, I like Toronto in this one. Even with those guys healthy, Toronto is the better team. Terrance Ross was a hand-full for the Cavs on Friday and I expect him to be one again. Every game from here on out is a must win for the Cavaliers but unfortunately, I do not think they will get it done at The Q tonight. Toronto 96, Cavaliers 89.

Topics: Anderson Varejao, C.J. Miles, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dion Waiters, Spencer Hawes, Tyler Zeller

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