The Cavs recently announced that their star point guard, Kyrie Irving, will sit out the game to rest his hyper extended knee. The Raptors were three point favourites when it was uncertain if Irving would play, but have soared to five point favourites given his absence . Needless to say, Irving has been a huge factor in the Cavs recent success, and his absence has to have the Raptors feeling much better about their chances tonight. I mean, he did hit the game winning shot at the ACC a month ago. However, even without Irving, the Cavaliers still have some weapons the Raptors need to be aware of, starting with rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters. The number four pick in last years draft was sensational for the second straight game last night, where he scored 25 points to lead his team to a road victory over the Bulls, a squad they hadn't beaten in 11 straight games. Yes, the Bulls are experiencing massive injury problems of their own at the moment, but the win was still proof that this young Cavs team is developing at an impressive pace.
This will be a perfect opportunity for DeRozan to bounce back at the defensive end, as he will be matched up against a rookie for the second straight game. We all know how well he handled his last matchup (Beal went off for a team high 20 points), so it is important that he is more focused this game. Waiters has had two sub par performances against the Raptors this year and will want to continue his hot streak. Considering the Cavs offensive options are limited without Irving and given Waiters recent success, I expect Byron Scott to try and get Waiters going early. He is a streaky shooter, so it is important that the Raptors give him limited space to work with in the early going in hopes of cooling him down.
- The Raptors will be looking to end the month of February with a perfect 4-0 road record. They have beaten Indiana, New York, and Washington to date.
- Cavaliers rookie Dion Waiters is averaging 18.5 PPG on 57.5% shooting in his last 5 games.
- Cleveland is just 3-14 this year on the second end of back-to-backs
Dwayne Casey pre-game quote:
"We cant afford to come out and not play in a desperate mode, a hungry mode, whatever you want to call it. If we don't play that way, we're not giving ourselves a chance."
Prediction: The Raptors really blew a golden opportunity last game, so I expect Casey to have them refocused tonight. With Kyrie Irving's absence and the Cavs performance on the second end of back-to-backs, this is a perfect opportunity for the Raptors to get a much needed W. Raptors 100, Cavs 91.
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