Cavaliers-Raptors Preview

The Cleveland Cavaliers got off to an outstanding start in the

first game since their superstar bolted for South Beach. The

Toronto Raptors wish they could say the same.

The Cavaliers look to build on their first win of the

post-LeBron James era Friday night when they visit Toronto, where

the Raptors weren’t as successful in moving on without Chris Bosh

in their opener.

Cleveland (1-0) was twice eliminated from the playoffs by Boston

the past three seasons, with a Game 6 loss to the Celtics in the

Eastern Conference semifinals May 13 serving as the last time James

would ever wear a Cavaliers uniform.

With a balanced offensive effort, the team did just fine in its

first game against Boston without him. J.J. Hickson scored 21

points to lead six Cleveland players in double figures Wednesday in

a 95-87 win.

“Guys in this locker room believe,” said forward Antawn Jamison,

held to four points in 20 minutes off the bench. “We’ve been

listening to what people are predicting for us. We’re going to let

our game do the talking. It’s probably going to take a month or so

for people to realize, ‘Hey, this is a team that can win and

compete for the playoffs.'”

The Raptors (0-1) had a tougher time in their first game without

Bosh, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer who joined James in

signing with Miami. Reggie Evans provided 16 rebounds in taking

over at power forward, but he didn’t score in a 98-93 loss to the

visiting New York Knicks on Wednesday.

Still, point guard Jarrett Jack wasn’t too discouraged after

watching his team rally from 16 points down in the second quarter

to make it a one-possession game with under a minute left in the

fourth.

“We’re a very resilient bunch,” said Jack, who had 16 points and

six assists. “I thought we showed some fight and some grit out

there. … If we didn’t make a stand the game could have gotten

away from us, and we battled back.”

While Hickson stepped up to lead the Cavaliers on Wednesday, it

appeared Andrea Bargnani was well on his way to doing the same for

Toronto with 18 points at halftime. But he had only four points on

1-of-8 shooting in the final 24 minutes.

Bargnani knows a thing or two about getting off to a hot start

versus Cleveland. The former No. 1 overall pick averaged 17.5

points in the opening half of two home games against the Cavaliers

last season.

The Raptors lost three of the teams’ four meetings overall.

Jamison averaged 21.0 points in the series’ final two games

after coming over from Washington, but he’s enjoyed facing Toronto

in any uniform in recent years. He’s averaged 23.3 points and 10.4

rebounds in his last 19 games against the Raptors.

Cleveland won Wednesday with minimal contribution from the

former Sixth Man of the Year and without point guard Mo Williams

(groin), who missed much of the preseason and was held out due to a

lack of conditioning.

It’s unclear if Williams, whom coach Byron Scott says is still

learning the team’s new Princeton offense, will play Friday.

Anderson Varejao will not be available because he remained in

Cleveland to be with his father after he underwent heart

surgery.