Dribbles: Cavs having fun heading into biggie with Raptors
Tipoff: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Records: Cavaliers 38-24; Raptors 38-22.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio. Radio: WTAM 1100, 100.7 WMMS, 87.7 FM La Mega, AM 1590 WAKR (Akron)
Cavaliers: C Timofey Mozgov; PF Kevin Love; SF LeBron James; SG J.R. Smith; PG Kyrie Irving.
Raptors: C Jonas Valanciunas; PF Amir Johnson; SF James Johnson; SG DeMar DeRozan; PG Greivis Vasquez.
Cavaliers: SF Shawn Marion (hip) out; C Anderson Varejao (Achilles) out.
Raptors: PG Kyle Lowry (rest) questionable.
1. The Raptors probably need this one more than the Cavs, although it’s hardly freak out time on either team’s behalf. But if the Cavs win, they’ll own the No. 2 seed in the East, and more importantly, will have earned the tiebreaker. A win Wednesday gives the Cavs the season series, 3-1.
2. This is yet another team the Cavs played a lot early in the season — before the trades for J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov. The Raptors are big and can be physical, and it’d be nice to see Cavs coach David Blatt give reserve Kendrick Perkins a real chance in this one. He might be needed.
3. I have my doubts about David Blatt and big men. Coaching in Europe all those years may have him wanting only 7-footers who can shoot from the perimeter. I don’t know that. Just wondering. Mozgov barely played on Blatt’s Russian national team, and Blatt didn’t really have anyone taller than 6-foot-10 on his teams in Israel.
4. These are not criticisms of a coach who has won 19 of 23, by the way. They are merely curiosities. If you win, most fans don’t care if you play Tiny Tim at center. Blatt is winning. Period.
5. Anyway, back to the game. It sounds like All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry is a game-time decision. Writers in Toronto seem to think Lowry is out, as he’s been wearing down lately. Not sure what that’s about, or why a 28-year old would ever need to miss a game to "rest." But Lowry has been shooting a dismal 29.7 percent since the All-Star break.
6. That said, his replacement, Greivis Vasquez has been a Cavs killer in recent years. If Lowry is slumping, the Raptors would indeed be better off using Vasquez. He’s no slouch.
7. As for the Cavs, J.R. Smith said this is the most fun he’s ever had playing basketball. The Cavs are the hottest team in the East, and while they sit in fourth in the conference standings, they could move up quickly. Most experts think they’ll finish with the second seed, surpassing the Raptors at some point in the final 19 games.
8. LeBron James on the Cavs: "Obviously, winning heals all. But (we) have chemistry inside the locker room and guys who truly care about being successful. Our goal is to win a championship, but we have short-term goals as well. That’s to get better every day, to not shy away from the process or cut any corners. When you have that, it results in guys being happy and competing."
9. The Bulls, of course, are a big part of this conversation. They currently possess the No. 3 seed, and should the Cavs win Tuesday, the Bulls will be in a two-way tie for second. But they will be without the injured starting backcourt of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler for at least a few weeks, and it will be interesting to see if they can survive.