It has been tough times for Cleveland and Toronto since the summer of 2010 when their stars took their talents to South Beach. The Raptors are 5-2 since Chris Bosh left them and Lebron James left Cleveland. This includes going 3-0 in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena. The Raptors may well trade that in to have the “luck” the Cavs have had in the NBA Lottery since than.
This is the first of four times these teams will meet this season. Kyrie Irving made his NBA Debut against Toronto and it wasn’t exactly stunning. In 3 meetings last season he averaged 10.6 Points and 6.6 assists and was a -10 in two of the three games.
The Raptors never got a chance to draft Tristan Thompson but if the did how would he compare to Jonas based on his rookie season and what Jonas has done so far?
Thompson: 8.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1 block per game shooting 43.9% from the field and just 55.2 at the free throw line
Valanciunas: 8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, shooting 51.3% and 70.7% at the free throw line.
Advantage Jonas to this point, despite that fact, of late he has not looked great and Dwane Casey has talked of reducing his minutes saying he may have hit that “Rookie Wall” of late.
Cavs have been ever worse than the Raptors especially lately. This might be surprising with Kyrie Irving having recently returned to their line-up. But they have lost 3 straight and are 2-8 in their last 10 games. The fact they are playing at home is not much of an advantage as they are just 3-7 at The Q this season. They are 5-20 overall and now sit only ahead of the Wizards it the Eastern Conference Standings.
The Cavs do have something the Raptors don’t with a player leading the league in rebounding. Anderson Varejao may have more trade value than Andrea Bargnani as he leads the league with 14.6 rebounds per game and 5.6 of that is on the offensive end of the floor which also leads the league.
I am thinking rebounding might play a role in this game. I know, this kind of genius, when we are just 7 days to Christmas and I really haven’t shopped yet.
We have yet to address the elephant in the room yet though. The Raptors have been just awful on the road. The only game they did win they really deserved to lose. They are just 1-14 away from the ACC this season and have been blown out more than they have been close on the road.
An old coaching expression is that defense travels, meaning if you can play good defense you can do that anywhere. Guess will test that theory out tonight as the Raptors defense looks as well as it has all season in the last two games.
So good that the fact Landry Fields is going to dress for this game and be available may not matter. He just might not be needed. Still I would take him off the bench before Linas Kleiza going forward. But Alan Anderson and Mickael Pietrus should get the bulk of the minutes at this point until they have a good read on where Landry Fields is at.
At some point you will have to decide where Fields fits in this rotation. You are paying him far too much money to leave him on the outside looking in. Also perhaps now with this surgery behind him maybe he can be more like the player the Raptors were hoping to get when they signed him in off-season.
So that is about it the Raptors have a real shot at a 3-game winning streak and a rare road win in this one. Will see if they can get it done with a 7pm tip time in Cleveland there will not be many easier opportunities.