Cleveland (41-15) at Toronto (38-18)
When: Friday, February 26th 2016
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Time: 7:35 ET | TV: FSN Ohio, Sportsnet One
The top two teams in the Eastern Conference square off Friday night when the Toronto Raptors host the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Raptors are only three games behind the Cavaliers for the top spot and have won 17 of their last 20 games. Toronto bookended the All-Star Break with a couple of road losses, but have since won three straight including a 114-105 tune-up on Wednesday against Minnesota. Toronto is led by its All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, and it was DeRozan taking over against the Timberwolves on Wednesday. The 26-year-old went for 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting and is averaging 24.6 points in the last 20 games. Lowry recorded his eight-career triple-double in the previous game in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks with 22 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds. Corey Joseph has been a solid contributor off the bench lately hitting 16-of-25 from the field and 5-of-8 from beyond the arc in the last three games. This will be the final regular season meeting against Cleveland this season with each team winning on its home court. Lowry and DeRozan combined for 42 points at Cleveland on January 4th, but the Cavaliers rolled 122-100 in that one. Toronto won 103-99 at home on November 25th.
Cleveland continues to hold off Toronto by winning six of their last seven games including an impressive 115-92 win at Oklahoma City last Sunday. They followed that up with a home loss against the Pistons, but beat the Hornets on Wednesday. The newly acquired Channing Frye made his debut on Monday, but scored just two points in nine minutes of action against Detroit. He broke out against Charlotte with 15 points in 17 minutes and hit 4-of-8 from three-point land. Frye is a 39.7% shooter from beyond the arc this season and will definitely open things up on offense for this Cleveland team. The Cavaliers begin a stretch of five straight games tonight in which they will face the top half of the Eastern Conference. They’ll play the Wizards (twice), Pacers, and Celtics after tonight. Cavaliers G Iman Shumpert (shoulder) has missed the last three games and is questionable for Friday. Cleveland dominated Toronto on January 4th as all five starters scored 14 points or more and the Cavaliers shot 55.4% from the floor and hit 17-off-33 threes.
Toronto has been waiting for this rematch for a while now. Cleveland is the better team in a seven-game series, but for one night in Toronto in February, the Raptors are more than capable especially the way Lowry and DeRozan are playing. I’ll take Toronto tonight.
Pick: Raptors +1.5