Toronto Raptors Cleveland Cavaliers January 5, 2011

The Raptors are 3 games out of last place in the East, and 3 games out of a playoff spot. Say what you want about this lot, but they play hard and give a lot of effort considering the talent level. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been able to watch them lose games and not question their heart.

The Cavs on the other hand have been utterly brutal. They are 1-17 in their last 18 games; they lost 10 in a row, beat the Knicks in overtime then lost 7 in a row heading into tonights game. To say this is a shell of a team is an understatement. That first game against the Heat was one of the most disappointing things I’ve ever watched. Sure, injuries have played a role on this team this season, but they have some talented vets and a couple youngish players; so they should be at least playing with some heart.

The last time these guys played, Sonny Weems had this to say after the game:

We weren’t trying to disrespect them, we weren’t trying to humiliate them or nothing, we did that for our fans. You get 100 points, fans get pizza and that’s every game with us.

Needless to say, that game didn’t go well for the Cavs; tonight shouldn’t be any different.


Reggie Evans – Out
Peja Stojakovic – Out
Sonny Weems – Day to day
Jose Calderon – Day to day

Anderson Varejao – Day to day
Daniel Gibson – Day to day
Mo Williams – Hurting, but should play


Point Guard
You really can’t ask more from Bayless, a career backup who has shown primo flashes during his short tenure as a Raptor (and starter). His speed and ability to penetrate are better suited to coming off the bench, but he’s filled in admirably for an injured Calderon. Last night against the Bulls, he was a beast making great passes and leading the brigade. He ultimately fell short against Rose, but what else did you expect?

Tonights match-up against Williams and Sessions makes me nervous, since the Cavs 1-2 at the point is one of the better combos in the league. Mo has been battling injuries, but has played very well considering he isn’t the kind of player who excels at creating his own shot. What he doesn’t do well is create high-quality scoring opportunities for his teammates, which Ramon does a better job of. If the Raptors fight through the pick-n-roll, and force these two to go it alone, this game is over. What I don’t want to see is Williams or Sessions coming off a high screen with a few options, which should be doable considering this team is brutal. The down-side to this is that both guards can get hot and drop 20 points.
Edge: Cleveland

Shooting Guard
While he didn’t put up the same numbers as the last two games, DeMar, played as well as can be expected with the return of Bargnani to the lineup; in fact, he’s treading the elevated expectation-territory in my books with a weeks worth of great games. I’m hoping that Calderon will meld DeRozan’s and Bargnani’s game’s together more cohesively once he gets back from injury. Triano will need to try something new to ensure both these guys play up to potential at the same time in the same game; I have no bright ideas on how to make this happen though.

Against Parker tonight, I’d like to see DeRozan use his athleticism, get into the lane, and get to the line at least 8 times. Parker wont be able to stop him off the dribble, and the Cavs have nobody to challenge him at the rim.
Edge: Toronto

Small Forward
Unless you’re of the opinion that Jamarion Moon and Stephen Graham are legit, the Cavs have nothing at the 3. While I appreciate Linas’ recent resurgence, the guy hasn’t seen a shot he didn’t like. Far too often the offense breaks down with a Kleiza heave that doesn’t fall with enough consistency for my liking. What I love is how he crashes the boards, especially on the offensive glass; makes like for smaller/weaker 3’s that much harder to check him.

I feel that if we keep talking about Julian Wright, that Triano will play him at some point with some degree of consistency. The guy plays good defense, makes decent decisions, and doesn’t play outside of his comfort zone. What else do you want from a bench player? Seriously, play the guy, it can’t get any worse.
Edge: Toronto

Power Forward
Antwan Jamison has been enjoying a resurgence of sorts; averaging 23pts 6rebs over the last five games. While Hickson has fallen out of favour with Byron Scott, he seems to have found some motivation coming off the bench. The two are a formidable duo to deal with, and have me concerned, as this is a spot where the Cavs can take advantage if Amir Johnson can’t put up something close to 15pts 10rebs. Amir’s play of late has been good, but not what is needed: 9pts 7rebs over the last 5 games (the two games against Houston and Dallas excluded, he played great there).

To his credit, he has been playing like a champ through some injuries, big minutes and very little help in the paint *cough* Ed Davis *cough*. Aside from that monster 17pt 12reb game against the Mavs, Ed hasn’t been providing a whole lot of what is expected, which makes life for Amir that much tougher. Fortunately, Bargnani is back, and will be pulling the guy who is defending him out of the paint, giving Amir more room to operate.
Edge: Cleveland

Bargnani didn’t miss a beat last night after a few games off with injury; it was nice to see him back in action. Varejao is expected to play tonight, returning from injury, but will be fitted with a face mask to protect his broken cheek. Anderson is one of a few centers who has the ability to defend Bargnani all over the floor. With the face injury, he will be less likely to play tough in the block, which is exactly where Bargnani should attack. Where Varejao will hurt Bargnani is on the offensive glass, where his hustle is something Andrea has had problems dealing with in the past. Regardless, Bargnani should own this one.
Edge: Toronto

The Line

The gamblers have the Cavs as 1.5 point favourites with an over/under of 204. Since the game is in Cleveland, this is as close to a push as you can possibly get. I’d bet against that personally.

I’ll say it again, the Cavs are 1-17 in their last 18 games, and currently on a 7 game losing streak. After tonight, they play 10 of their next 13 on the road, so they will be looking to steal this one before heading out on a nasty road swing. They’ve had some injuries to boot, but this is a team that is hurting badly inside. The Raptors need to jump all over them from the tip and not let up one inch. Win the first half, and the Cavs will crumble; that’s got to be the plan.

  • Nilanka15

    Will anyone even be watching this game (with the Canada/Russia game on tonight)?

    • sleepz

      Hockey, shmockey. Who cares.

      Cavs have lost 17 out of 18 and are favorites for this game???lol

      If Raps lose this one the comments section should be extra spicy tomorrow morning.

  • K.J.P

    Mo Williams is about to look like a superstar, lol.

    I hope Bayless doesn’t play. I can’t stand looking at the stupid faces he makes after he drives to the hoop. Just rest and recover! At least he wants to play though, that’s more than I can say about Weems when I look at him.

  • Tom Liston


  • KJ-B

    Ed Davis is going to get better when the Bigs rotation is better… I’m not sure he was sure when he was subbing in/out of the game last night–so much is missing as to having an accurate assessment of the talent of this team because of inconsistency by the head coach…

    I take a look at Charlotte and see a head coaching change there and you wonder if it was the same team–and Silas replaced HOFer Larry Brown no less… Just goes to show when a coach predetermines the style of play for his team and ignores the undeniable evidence of a different set of proofs it ends up getting one fired…

    This team usually pulls a red herring out of the dino cave when Jay’s job seems to be in question–I just hope they don’t do it this time… I say let’s give English a shot at directing a more uptempo O/aggressive D…instead of Triano’s ‘Ohh nooo–don’t take that shot (#7, 24 etc…)/don’t let them get that shot’ without ever fully explaining how to get it done…

    Ed Davis’ break out game had to do with his athleticism/instinct; DeRozan’s was just personal hunger–everyone’s wanting more from the players, I’m wanting more, or should I say a different look altogether, from the coaching spot.

  • albertan_10

    I don’t see why people can get upset with the coaching. we are overachieving thus far and there is a fight in these guys that there hasn’t been for a number of years. They just lack development.

    • smushmush

      why we are upset with the coaching is the apparent lack of defense or an effort of even defending by this disparate bunch of players. couple that with no accountability and it is a double whammy.

  • Buddahfan

    Johnson has done a pretty good job defensively in the last two games against Davis and last night Boozer. Both players by the way used to really dominate Johnson with their offense including Boozer as late as in the Bulls last game in Toronto.

    Jamison presents a different problem defensively since he has more range than Boozer or Davis.

    On his latest video interview on Johnson said that his back is still sore and that he is still limited by his injury in the things that he can do on the court. He did not go into details of what those limitations might be. My guess is that the injury is still limiting somewhat his rebounding, contact hurts and offense, may be affecting his jump shot and going to the offensive glass though he did get some offensive rebounds last night and had one nice put back on a hook shot off of one of those offensive rebounds.

    Of course if Bayless starts again then Johnson probably won’t get too many touches on offense as has previously been the case when Johnson has been on the court with Bayless.

    We shall see what happens

  • lol

    wow Bargs doasn’t get one ball, kleiza is allways shooting and plays as center. wtf is this????? Triano wake up your center is Bargs. what a ridiculous coach. what a ridiculous team.

  • Statement


    The Raps are getting creamed.


  • Statement

    Gotta give the devil his due, Bargs with 3 straight shots in a row. Good offense.

    Please no Derozan in this game, he is sucking something FIERCE.

  • Statment

    Julian Wright, MVP!!!

  • draftedraptor

    You are spot on about Julian Wright. MVP among bench players who get less than 5 minutes a game. Gee and Gibson look way better than Kleiza and DeMAr.

  • Statement

    Julian Wright, MVP of first half. Bargs Barbosa playing well too.

    Please no more Derozan for today, it’s not his night.

  • Pesterm1

    Wow! Jwright with a +23 -/+ just wow!

  • Statement

    Jose 17 assists, why can’t we play the Cavs every game and in the playoffs each round?

  • Pesterm1

    Im glad we have Bargnani, otherwise we would just be a bunch of cavaliers lol.

    The cavs are by far the worst team in the NBA i dont care what the standings say.
    They have horrible attitude and are constantly whinning. Cavs have no future for a long time and its time they start blowing up. anyone think the raps should try and get varejao?