Pre-game news & notes: Bosh will be joined by Wade, after all

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What a weird day. I’m not sure where to start, so maybe let’s just do bullet-points from today’s content.

  • The Cleveland Cavaliers fired David Blatt. This is not only crazy, but could, should the NBA or new coach Tyronn Lue deem it appropriate, mean Dwane Casey coaches the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Details here, with the update from Josh Lewenberg of TSN that the NBA “will review the situation.” It also means that anything goes for the Cavs from here forward, and the Raptors shouldn’t expect this excellent team to be the one they could see in the playoffs. They’re not going to get complacent, even with a sizable cushion in the East, not with what awaits from the West side of the bracket.
  • It’s the anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game against the Raptors. I’m a little talked out about it, but there is a brief look-back here and some further reading linked within.
  • Kyle Lowry was voted an All-Star starter last night. I wrote about it briefly here and at Vice. Lowry seems genuinely appreciative, though he isn’t promising another dunk, and now the focus moves to DeMar DeRozan, for whom, in Lowry’s words, “There’s no case to be made. That man’s an All-Star.” I agree.
  • The Raptors assigned Lucas Nogueira, Norman Powell, and Bruno Caboclo to the D-League. (We’ll have coverage but not until late, after the Raptors game.)
  • They still won’t be nearly as short-handed as the Heat, who are down as many as seven players for Friday’s game. You can read Kiyan’s full game preview here.
  • The Heat are one of the league’s worst free-throw and 3-point shooting teams, an interesting opponent given how much the Raptors are getting hurt on both lines.

And hey, Bosh is back. That’s awesome. Love that dude, and as I wrote recently, he’s tied quite prominently to my Raptors fandom. Here are some assorted Bosh quotes from shootaround, courtesy the beat reporter crew (support your local beat writers):

Bosh will be going it mostly alone, however. As a review: Luol Deng (eye), Goran Dragic (calf), Hassan Whiteside (hip), Josh McRoberts (knee), and Chris Andersen (knee), are all out. Dwyane Wade (shoulder) was ruled out but now “might end up giving it a shot” (per Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post), and Beno Udrih (neck) is doubtful but not yet ruled out.

UPDATE: Wade will play, the team announced shortly before tip-off.

That leaves them with a rotation looking something like this:

PG: Tyler Johnson, (Udrih)
SG: Wade, Gerald Green, Josh Richardson
SF: Justise Winslow
PF: Bosh, Jarnell Stokes
C: Amar’e Stoudemire, Udonis Haslem

And that’s not the only thing weighing on the Heat – it took them eight hours to get to Toronto and they didn’t arrive until 6 a.m. Woof.

Even with players on assignment and DeMarre Carroll injured, the Raptors will have more bodies. The rotation will look like this, assuming James Johnson, who was in a walking boot but was said to be fine Thursday, is good to go. (Note: He is.)

PG: Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Delon Wright
SG: DeMar DeRozan, T.J. Ross
SF: Johnson
PF: Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, Anthony Bennett
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Bismack Biyombo

The line opened at Raptors -9.5 and I thought it would bump to 10.5, but it’s blown past that to 11.5 with a 187 over-under. Not exactly what ESPN signed up for when they tapped this game for national television it’s also on Sportsnet One; tip-off is at 8 p.m.). The Raptors have a clear opportunity to tie the second-longest winning streak in franchise history with a seventh consecutive victory Friday, but nothing should ever be taken for granted, especially with how the Raptors can struggle to put teams away.

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