Cleveland heads north for a matchup with a post-Kyle Lowry Toronto squad.
This will be a true measuring stick game for the Cavs. To a certain extent, the Raptors are who this year’s Cavs hope to be. They’re a well coached, defensive oriented team that win by getting defensive stops and owning the offensive glass.
The Cavs will need to hold their own against teams like this if they want to be competitive in a deep Eastern Conference. We’ll get a better idea tonight if they can do that.
HOW TO WATCH
Where: Scotiabank Arena — Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When: 7:30 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports App, NBA League Pass
Spread: Cavs +6
Opposing blog: Raptors HQ
Expected Cavs starting lineup: Darius Garland Collin Sexton, Dean Wade, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Cavs injury report: Isaac Okoro (OUT – hamstring), Lauri Markkanen (OUT – health & safety protocols), Kevin Love (OUT – health & safety protocols), R.J. Nembhard (OUT – two-way contract)
Expected Raptors starting lineup: Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa
Raptors injury report: Pascal Siakam (OUT – shoulder), Yuta Watanabe (OUT – calf)
Three Things to watch
Bigs vs. Wings. Toronto is as committed to wings as Cleveland is to big men. Outside of VanVleet, their entire starting lineup is wings ranging from 6’ 6” to 6’ 9”. They use that length to lead the league in both steals (11.1) and offensive rebounds (13.8). Their lack of size inside is a factor as to why they currently have the worst percentage in the league within five feet of the rim (55.7%). For the Cavs to be successful, they will need to control the glass on both ends, limit the turnovers, and force the Raptors wings to finish over the bigs inside.
Dylan Windler’s opportunity to step up. Windler saw his first non-garbage time minutes of the season Wednesday and made the most of them. He finished with 13 points and 3 assists on 3-3 shooting from deep. So far, J.B. Bickerstaff has elected to extend his rotation past nine guys and usually keeps it at eight. Windler hasn’t been one of those eight or nine guys and will have a hard time taking minutes away from Cedi Osman considering how consistent of a shooter Osman has been. He’ll need more games like the one he had against Portland if he wants to crack to rotation if/when the team is healthy again.
Mobley vs. Barnes. This will be a showcase of the two best rookies so far this season (sorry Josh Giddey) even if they won’t necessarily be going head-to-head. Mobley’s outstanding defense and his fit alongside Allen is the biggest reason the Cavs are currently above .500. As impressive as Mobley has been, he hasn’t had the most impressive start to the season. That honor belongs to Scottie Barnes. Barnes is averaging 18.1 points with an efficient 56.1 effective field goal percentage. He’s also added in 8.9 rebounds, 2 assists and has a net rating of +3.0 while averaging over 36 minutes a night. This will be a fun head-to-head matchup to track over the next few seasons as Barnes was taken one pick behind Mobley. It’s safe to say both franchises are happy with their pick.