GameDay Preview: Cavs vs. Raptors

Amir Johnson, Kyrie Irving
David Liam Kyle/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Cleveland Cavaliers (5-20) return to The Q to face the Toronto Raptors (6-19) for the first of four regular season matchups. Tipoff is at 7:00 p.m. ET. Tonight marks the Cavaliers ninth of 22 pairs of back-to-backs this season.

The Wine and Gold will look to snap a three-game skid after dropping a heartbreaking 103-102 loss in New York this weekend while the Raptors are coming off a victory against the Houston Rockets, 103-96 on Sunday.

Rookie Dion Waiters is expected to return to the lineup tonight after missing the last eight games with an injured ankle. With Waiters back, the Wine and Gold's offense gets a 15.2 point, 3.4 assist boost.

In the absence of Andrea Bargnani, swingman DeMar DeRozan has picked up the slack, averaging 18.0 points and 5.0 rebounds. Before his injury, Bargnani was averaging 16.3 points and 4.3 rebounds.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Kyrie Irving, SG - C.J. Miles, SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Anderson Varejao

Raptors: PG - Jose Calderon, SG - DeMar DeRozan, SF - Mickael Pietrus
PF - Ed Davis, C - Jonas Valanciunas

Injuries: (Cavs) - None
(Raptors) - Andrea Bargnani, (Torn Right Elbow Ligament & Strained Right Wrist, Out), Landry Fields (Ulnar Nerve Transposition Surgery, Out), Kyle Lowry (Partially Torn Right Triceps, Out)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

The Cavaliers lead the all-time series, 36-29, including a 19-13 mark in games played at The Q and a 17-16 record in Toronto. Cleveland has won 11 of the last 14 home contests against Raptors.

The last time the two teams faced each other, the Cavaliers outscored Toronto 33-17 in the final 12 minutes to pick up an 84-80 victory at the Air Canada Centre on April 6, 2012.

Keys to the Game

Aggressive on Both Ends
The Raptors come into tonight's contest giving up the fourth most points per game at 101.2, so the Wine and Gold must attack and take advantage of Toronto's defense.

At the other end of the floor, the Cavaliers have been improving as they have held teams to under .430 shooting in five of their last eight contests. Furthermore, their opponents are shooting just .431 (270-627) from the field and .315 (51-162) from beyond the arc over that stretch.

Being assertive and aggressive at both ends of the floor will be a key to tonight's game.

Pounding the Glass
Toronto is more of a finesse team and are lacking the big bodies down low. On the season, the Raptors are giving up the seventh most opponent's rebounds per game (43.9).

The Cavaliers have done a great job of pounding the glass this season. They have tied or outrebounded their opponent in offensive rebounds in 20 of their 25 games so far, averaging an NBA-best 13.8 offensive rebounds per game to their opponents’ 10.6, which is 4th-lowest in the league.

With Toronto's struggles rebounding, the Wine and Gold should have plenty of opportunities for second chance points. This season, the Cavs are the NBA’s leader on the offensive end in second chance points (17.2) and rank 1st in second chance points allowed (12.0).

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FSOhio HD, NBA League Pass
Radio: WTAM 1100, XM 219, Sirius 123, NBA League Pass Audio