The game is at 7 p.m. in Toronto on TSN, but if a team wins in and nobody is watching to see it, does it still count in the standings? I say few might see it, of course, because the NHL is back and “7 p.m. on Saturday” is reserved for Hockey Night in Canada for many.

That’s the argument, at least. I find that the die-hard Raptor fans don’t see a lot of crossover with the blue and white. The casual fans, sure, they might be at home watching Coach’s Corner, but the turn out should still be fair. Here’s hoping TSN doesn’t cut away to hockey highlights at some point, though.

I will be PVRing the game as I’ll be out doing a video documentary on the East Vancouver Pillow Fight League. Yup, you read that correctly.

Anyway, I’m sure you don’t care what hockey fans or yours truly will be doing, you just want the breakdown. So how do the 11-32 Cleveland Cavaliers look next to the 16-27 Toronto Raptors?

Tale of the Tape
O-Rating: Toronto 106.5 (11th), Cleveland 103.0 (22nd)
D-Rating: Toronto 108.6 (26th), Cleveland 108.7 (27th)
Pace: Cleveland 91.9 (12th), Toronto 89.9 (25th)
Strength: Toronto Ball Control (2nd), Cleveland Forcing Turnovers (3rd)
Weakness: Toronto Fouling (30th), Cleveland Defense (30th in Opponent eFG%)

Synergy Says
Cleveland: The Cavs are strong in isolation (hi, Kyrie) and on the offensive glass but are below average just about everywhere else. Nearly 20% of their shots are of the spot-up variety, and they hit 37% of spot-up threes, so the Raptors will need to be aware of the drive-and-kick and players in the corners. Defensively, the Cavaliers struggle just about everywhere except handling dive-men, which has gotten worse since losing Anderson Varejao. They especially struggle with post-ups and in defending in transition, increasing the importance of defensive rebounding for the Raptors.

Toronto: Number one in isolation, which is actually nearly impossible to believe given the roster construction. Wow. They’re also very strong in pick-and-roll situations, on the offensive glass and on post-ups. I’d hope to see DeMar DeRozan, in particular, work on the block tonight. Defensively the Raptors handle their own glass fairly well, which will be important. They do struggle against spot-up shooters, and teams generally try to attack them there by using 20% of their possessions in that manner. The Raptors allow teams to shoot 38% on spot-up threes, so the Cavaliers game plan will likely look to exploit that.

Positional Breakdown
Point Guard – Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry v. Kyrie Irving and Shaun Livingston
It’s Kyrie Irving, get your head on straight. The Raptors will need to ignore the swirling rumors that Kyle Lowry is now the guard most likely to be dealt off the team and focus in on the man who had 35 points on just 17 field goal attempts last night. If you weren’t aware, Irving is really, really good, so he’ll at least be fun to watch. At 24-4-6 and a 40% clip from long range, he will not be fun to guard.

Wings – DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Terrence Ross and Alan Anderson v. Alonzo Gee, Dion Waiters, Daniel Gibson and Wayne Ellington
It’s not a high-talent wing battle but the Raptors should have an edge. Gee is a nice versatile player but isn’t much of a threat offensively, and Waiters, while extremely talented, is still in the “chucker” phase of becoming a scorer. He can fill it up, and might, but he’ll take a lot of shots to get there. The bench wings are capable shooters, putting added pressure on the defense. None of these wings, except maybe Gee, are strong defensively, and the team fouls at a high rate, so attacking on the wings should be a key. Anderson and DeRozan had solid games the last time these two met, and I’d expect more of the same here.

Bigs – Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray v. Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller and Marreese Speights
The Raptors starters are better, of course, but Speights is a strong addition off the bench for them. He had 10-and-6 last night in just 18 minutes and put up 18-and-12 against the Raptors as a member of the Grizzlies earlier in the season. Thompson is beastly on the boards but pretty weak defensively, while Zeller would be a nice back-up center. Davis and Johnson have been getting run into the ground of late in terms of workload but their efficiency is yet to really take a hit. The Raptors should have the advantage here but I worry thinking about Speights changing things when the reserves check in.

The Picks
Vegas: Raptors -6
Hollinger: Raptors -5.5
Blake: Raptors by 3. I see it being closer thanks to some Irving heroics, and the Raptors will see a 10-point fourth quarter lead nearly evaporate, only to hold on in the end.

Have a good weekend everyone!

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43 Responses to “Gameday: Cavaliers @ Raptors, Jan. 26”

  1. Jerry Garcia

    I had to fight to get the Orlando game on at the local watering hole…hockey is grudgingly making a comeback…but i was successful and crowd swooned at DeMar’s rainbow finish. Keep the Faith !  

    • Blasterfi9

      Man i know, im getting dragged out from watching basketball from the comfort of my room to go out drinking and eat wings to say fair well to a friend…. gah -_- im gonna beg for a screen juss to see the raptors >_<

    • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

      I see the Raptors getting a W tonite. #StartTRoss

      Fields over under total points: 5

  2. Dearpeter

    If the Raptors win and the Knicks beat Philly, a reasonable expectation, the Raps will be just a half game out of ninth place in the East. Moving on up… hopefully.

    I hope Demar has his head on straight tonight.

    People talk about Toronto lacking a closer. I wonder if BC picked TRoss for this reason. He does seem to be fearless as well as having great shot mechanics. Toronto will probably remain a jump-shooting team for quite a while yet and it is unlikely any big-time closer-type player will come here through free agency, so that leaves the draft as the only way to get such a player. And such a player is surely needed. I shudder to think just how many tight games the Raps have lost the past three seasons or so because they lacked a player who could hit clutch shots. Demar might be the best at it now, or perhaps more likely Calderon, but I won’t be surprised if Ross becomes that guy next year. He is cool under pressure.

    • mountio

      Couldnt agree more re: Ross. Of course, Casey only let him finish a game for the first time in his career against ORL (let alone think about taking the last second shot). He had some growing pains for sure (dumb foul vs JJ) – but he will learn from that and grow. He should be finishing every game down the stretch (with DD, ED, AJ and one of JC/KL). He provides the scoring threat we need to open things up for everyone else. 

      • Destro

        Thats still an indictment on BC tho…Its BC’s call not the coaches.
        It dont matter who coach wanted,GM makes the final call on that pick…

        If BC wanted Drummond or someone elseyou overrule the coach period end of story…Its BC’s pick…

    • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

      BC didn’t even want to draft TRoss- haven’t you heard his 2 live in game interviews with Matt & Jack?

      Stop wondering and increase your Raptors basketball iq….

      TRoss needs to start over Fields for the rest of the season- point blank!

  3. mountio

    The rare Sat night home game for the Raps (during hockey season no less!). Ill be at this one, will be interesting to see how the crowd is with a little extra time to lubricate .. should be good times. 
    T Ross had better get 25 (if not 30)+ mins .. 

      • BlakeMurphy

        Yup, that. Also, Cavs bloggers (who watch more Cavs games than I) seem pretty down on him at that end.

        • BlakeMurphy

          Although, this from Conrad Kaczmarek of SB Nation’s Fear the Sword on Twitter:

          Blake: Out of curiosity, has his D improved at all with the big offensive gains this year?

          Conrad: Yes. It’s very very good.

          Not a lot of detail, but perhaps another viewing here will change my mind.

          • Destro

            Clearly you havent watched Cav games yet ur making obsos about players smh…..typial of this board…

            • BlakeMurphy

              I’ve watched half a dozen or so. Like I said, can’t watch every game man, this isn’t my full-time job. Some obs + stats + other blogs/comments = best I can do for gauging a guys D.

          • BlakeMurphy

            Yeah, early in the year he was struggling. I’ve seen half a dozen Cavs games or so (for Kyrie), but I was basing the “poor defender” thing more so on twitter/Cavs bloggers (I can’t watch every game, I’m not TBJ or Kelly Dwyer).

        • Hugmenot

          Why don’t you read before making idiotic statements? There is a 328 page thread about Tristan Thompson and one of the few things most posters agree upon is that TT defense is actually very good.

          Statistics also back that up.

          Can you name the bloggers who are down on his defense?

    • Destro

      Hes not going to be a DPOY candidate but hes not that bad…HEs active,people lose sight hes undersized and a sophmore….Hes D the other night against Milwaukee was good…

  4. ckh26

     My ankles are still tender from jumping on and off the bandwagon. I am now firmly on.

    Playing at a .500 clip or slightly better may get us into the 8th seed. Time waits for no one and the bell may finally be ringing on the geriatric crowd in Boston. If Pierce and Garnett can’t go the distance and its left to the nutcase Rondo to man the Celtics ship we have a reasonable shot at the final spot for the playoff dance.

    • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

      Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttttttttttttttttttt (Clay Davis voice)

      Just take a look at the Raptors remaining schedule and .500 is a pipe dream, buddy.

      Boston will make a move, trust, while BC trades away lottery picks…..for back up pgs…

      • ckh26

         Its a long season and the headcase PG in Boston just tore his ACL. Boston is still old and now without its PG. Philly still sux. Our schedule is pretty much the same as Boston and Philly’s. Its within reach.

        Boston really doesn’t have much to trade regardless of what the US mainstream media will say. 

  5. mike, prague

     Think you could leak some of that professional pillow fighting stuff? It would be LEGEN-DARY!!!

    • BlakeMurphy

      The project isn’t due until early March (just learning video editing and such), but it’ll be up online when it’s done.

      It’s not as sexy as it sounds – the girls have like WWE-style characters and costumes, it’s not like “sorority girl pillow fighting.” Very interested to see what it’s like and what kind of crowd it attracts.

  6. unknown guest

    Would this be a “trap” game? At home, Sat vs a sub .500 team? Oh, hockey and free-ish UFC?

  7. JHP

    I think all games are a challenge for this team.  Two potential starters are out, Pietrus and Linas have bad knees.  Really the coach only has 8/9 bodies available on any given night. 

    • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

      BC signs/trades for all these injury plagued and injury history players.

      Btw Bargnani has become very injury prone the past 3 seasons as well.

  8. Destro

    oh and Blake the sarcastic hockey shtick was boring weeks ago breh….We know this town likes the hockey team,we know the basketball team plays second fiddle we dont need to be reminded every post….

  9. Keep our pg's

    Why are there rumors about trading Lowry over Calderon ? I say keep them booth no? Calderon signs with us again next season is that so far fetched??

  10. BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

    The militarization of pro sports- camo jersey military nite…smdh 

    Why not fly some drones over head as well as a halftime AK 47 shooting contest with some lucky winning fans as the moving targets?

    Freedom or freedumb?

  11. FAQ

    NBA careers will be made or broken with this game. It’s time to step up or it will be step out!!

  12. Destro

    Im not goin to bring up playoffs again with this team,they dont deserve it and i think this game has sealed that idea finally…..You cant give up 33 pts in a 4th qtr to a 12-32 team at home and think you have a shot at the playoffs….

    This team never learns from there mistakes,mos def a coaching issue….

    “When the schedule turns in there favor”

    I bet those ppl werent counting on home losses to the Cavs as part of it turning…

    All i can say is i hope changes are coming,this team needs em…


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