Tonight the Toronto Raptors welcome the Cleveland Cavaliers to Canada for a pivotal Eastern Conference clash. A quick snapshot of the East’s standings shows Toronto’s 2.5 game lead over Cleveland in the standings, while the Raptors have only one more loss than the Boston Celtics. A Raptors win launches their top-seed bid, while a Cavs win pulls Cleveland back to 1.5 games behind. . .with the Raptors playing the Warriors in two days.
The Raptors are 14-2 at home on the year, better than the Warriors and Rockets. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry will once again lead the charge, although Lowry’s status is in question with a bruised tailbone. OG Anunoby and CJ Miles will combine for the unenviable task of slowing down LeBron James, while Jonas Valanciunas’ mideason surge will need to continue. Starting power forward Serge Ibaka is out due to suspension.
Projected starting lineup: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Jonas Valanciunas
The Cavaliers are on a skid, posting a 4-6 mark over their last ten games. LeBron James’ superhuman efforts will need to be helped on by someone else, and Isaiah Thomas’ shoot-first mentality is not what is needed for Cleveland’s point guard. Kevin Love’s rebounding will be the key, due to the aforementioned Ibaka suspension.
Projected starting lineup: Isaiah Thomas, JR Smith, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson.
Although they’re banged up, the Raptors should continue their incredible run with a victory, as Cleveland will face an increasing threat from the surging fourth-placed Heat.
Pick: Raptors 112, Cavaliers 105