Feb. 17, 2017
Cleveland @ Toronto Quick Preview
The two top teams in the Eastern Conference will clash in Toronto this evening, as the Raptors look to prove they have what it takes to overcome the Cavaliers as the conference's top dogs.
Cleveland are entering the conference clash on their worst run so far this season, losing their past three games. They lost relatively heavily to both the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, losing by double digits on both occasions, before Dwayne Wade and the Chicago Bulls succumbed the Cavaliers to a third straight defeat this past Friday. The Cavaliers only used eight players in the loss to Chicago on Friday, so a lack of depth may be troubling the defending champions.
The Raptors on the other hand come into the contest riding a six-game winning streak and will defend home court after a 44 point, 128-84 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. The Raptors have been firing on all cylinders in this six game winning streak, winning by an average of 23 points. Raptors fans will be hoping their team can avenge a four point loss to the Cavaliers on November 15th.
Things to look out for:
Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving has scored twenty points or more in his last nine matches and averaged over 24 points per game during the Eastern Conference finals clash with the Raptors last season, so the Canadian based team struggle to deal with the point guard. If both he and Lebron James can find their A-game this evening, the Raptors could be in trouble. The Cavaliers will require some assistance from their other starters and will need additional bench players to avoid fatigue in an important fixture.
Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan are often key for the Raptors but Power Forward Patrick Patterson has been shooting an average of above 50% from beyond the arc in his last eight matches. Also, Toronto's ability to share the load in points scoring against the Hawks on Saturday could be key. Only Jonas Valanciunas failed to score in double figures in that particular victory.
Prediction: Toronto 109-102 Cleveland
Player of the Game: DeMar Derozan - 36 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists
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