Following the completion of the NBA Trade Deadline where the Cleveland Cavaliers added Spencer Hawes the team travels up north to compete against the Toronto Raptors. Following the US Hockey team losing to Team Canada the Cavs need to get vengeance against the team from up north. The Cavs will be without Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters and CJ Miles in this game which could be a huge issue. The Raptors sit 4 games over .500 and in the 3rd seed. The two teams haven’t faced off yet this season but have a few games in the next few weeks that could be huge for the Cavs playoff hopes. 3 things we are looking at tonight:
How Tyler Zeller Responds
Zeller now has competition with Hawes being brought in and also had to listen to his name being bandied about in a deal with the Clippers. Zeller should continue to start with Varejao out and now has to go up against Big Z, a strong center many Cavs fans wish was selected instead of Tristan Thompson. Does Zeller press and try to show how good he is and keep Hawes from taking his minutes or does he play free and confident like he has the last few weeks?
Second Unit Ball Handling
With Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Jarrett Jack the Cavs have 3 ball dominate players capable of breaking down defenses and initiating the offense. With Jack currently in the starting lineup and Waiters out that leaves Matthew Dellavadova with big minutes with the second unit. Delly is a solid defender and a quality player but can struggle when pressured with the ball. Could Mike Brown look to separate Jack and Irving to alleviate this issue? Could the athletic Raptors take advantage of this issue?
Big Debut from the Other Rookie
Sergey Karasev has gotten minutes in the past but tonight’s game could be his first playing minutes that matter. He has played well in Canton but with Miles and Waiters out may be needed tonight in real game action. The sweet stroking lefty could impact the game on offense but struggle with the physicality of the NBA game. How the Cavs spread out back court minutes with Waiters and Miles out will be very interesting. At least they have Hawes with Varejao out. Does Alonzo Gee get minutes at the 2 spot? Does Brown even trust Karasev? Could play a huge role in tonight’s game.
What are you watching for tonight? How do you think the backcourt minutes will play out? Who could be the X factor for the Cavs? Who do you think will cause problems for the Cavs from the opponent Raptors?