NBA Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors

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A lopsided matchup on paper, Cleveland comes to Toronto to face a Raptors team with the best record in the league at 24-9. The Cavaliers themselves own a record of 8-24, tied for 3rd worse. These teams barely have anything in common, although they both beat the Indiana Pacers in the final moments of their games this week. And that’s where the similarities end.

Frustrations mounted on the road against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday, as Cavs coach Larry Drew was ejected after picking up two technical fouls, going on to lose by the score of 110-99. That made it three losses in their last four games. Rookie Jaron Blossomgame was one of the bright spots, putting down a career high 15 points including three from 3-point range. Jordan Clarkson was the team’s high scorer with 20 points on 4-of-8 shooting from downtown, while Larry Nance earned a double-double with 10 points and 15 boards. Dealing with left knee soreness, Matthew Dellavedova did not play in this one. Tristan Thomas (foot sprain) has also missed his last five games.

Toronto is hoping to field a healthier team come Friday, willing themselves to a victory on Wednesday against the Pacers by the score of 99-96. They played poorly up until they found a spark late in the game, coming to life in the fourth quarter to pull them over the top. They did it without point guard Kyle Lowry (thigh contusion) and centers Serge Ibaka, and Jonas Valanciunas. Lowry, the team assist leader with 10 per game has been out over the past four consecutive games, last playing against the Golden State Warriors. Greg Monroe got the start at center and racked up 13 points and eight rebounds. There’s a good chance Lowry sits again on Friday. Ibaka is still questionable with right knee inflammation and Monroe will start again if Ibaka can’t go against Cleveland. After limping in practice after a knee-to-knee collision on Wednesday, it looks as Danny Green will tough it out and play through it.

Before beating the Pacers, Toronto faced a brutal four game West Coast trip where they played .500 ball with wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and champions Golden State Warriors. However, they are happy to be back in Toronto after losing their last two games on the trip to the Portland Trailblazers and Denver Nuggets. With all its injuries, Toronto could use a rest, but doesn’t look like they’ll get it as they travel to face the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday. They’ll get a holiday breather after that one.

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