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Cleveland Cavaliers

Pregame: Raptors (6-19) at Cavs (5-20)

By Jason Lloyd Published: December 18, 2012
Jose Calderon, center, and the Toronto Raptors enter the Q tonight with their first winning streak of the season. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim)


Time: 7 p.m.; Place: The Q; TV/Radio: FS Ohio/WTAM, WLEC, WAKR

Injury report: Cavs: None; Raptors: Andrea Bargnani (elbow, wrist) out; Kyle Lowry (triceps) out.

Officials: Michael Smith, Kevin Cutler, Josh Tiven


Cavs probables

Name Ht, Wt Pts Rebs Asts
PG Kyrie Irving 6-3, 191 23.8 3.7 5.6
SG Dion Waiters 6-4, 221 15.2 2.3 3.4
SF Alonzo Gee 6-6, 219 11.6 4.0 2.1
PF Tristan Thompson 6-9, 227 8.2 7.6 1.0
C Anderson Varejao 6-11, 260 13.8 14.6 3.4



Raptors probables

Name Ht, Wt Pts Rebs Asts
PG Jose Calderon 6-3, 208 10.1 2.4 7.1
SG DeMar DeRozan 6-7, 217 18.0 5.0 2.0
SF Mickael Pietrus 6-6, 215 8.3 2.6 0.4
PF Ed Davis 6-10, 228 7.2 5.9 0.8
C Jonas Valanciunas 7-0, 257 8.0 5.4 1.1


* Byron Scott wouldn't declare his starting shooting guard this morning. He said he had a pretty good idea what he was going to do, but he won't divulge it until pregame tonight. Strictly a guess: Dion Waiters will start. If Scott sticks with C.J. Miles, it won't be for more than one game. Waiters is the future of the position.

* Scott said he has a "pretty good idea" what he has with this team healthy, but the truth is no one really knows. The Cavs were 2-2 until injuries started knocking out key pieces. Tyler Zeller fractured his cheekbone in the fourth game, then the night he came back, Kyrie Irving fractured his finger. The Cavs have been in disarray ever since.

* Even without the injuries, the Cavs probably wouldn't be in the playoff hunt this season, but they'd be much better than their 5-20 record. Of course, injuries are part of the game. But the Cavs simply don't have the depth yet to withstand losing two of their three best players for an extended period of time. Scott said he expects Waiters to be a little rusty tonight, but he expected Irving to be rusty his first game back and irving was terrific.

* As for the backup minutes at point guard, Scott admitted he's "unsure" of what he's going to do. When the game is tight, he likes to use Donald Sloan because Sloan is pretty steady. He's not going to carry a team, but he's not going to make crucial mistakes, either. Scott called Jeremy Pargo his wildcard. If the Cavs are down 10 when he puts Pargo in, hie could have the game tied in three minutes -- or he could have the Cavs down by 20. It's that type of inconsistency that Memphis grew tired of last season.

* With the Cavs playing the Raptors tonight, half of the Canadian press corps descended on Cleveland Clinic Courts today. That's how it always goes, thanks to Tristan Thompson. Scott defended Thompson again this morning, saying scoring is the last part of his game he's concerned about. He wants him to rebound and play defense and not worry what critics think. 

* "Just because he was the fourth pick, everyone expects him to average a double-double and be scoring," Scott said. "That's not really why we drafted Tristan. All the work he did this summer to help his offseason game, he's gotten better with that. I'm happy with where he is. I'm happy with his progress."

* In fairness, Scott is the one who said repeatedly during training camp he expected Thompson to average a double-double this season. Thompson's numbers are obviously below that level right now. "When you say double-double to a lot of people, their expectations are you're going to throw him the ball a bunch of times, he's going to get a bunch of post-ups and a bunch of jump shots," Scott said. "That's not necessarily the way it is. My expectations of him is to average a double-double, but by offensive rebounding and running the floor. He's getting putbacks. he's getting around the basket where he's getting dish offs from Kyrie and things like that. It's no different than what Andy is doing, Andy is just doing it at an unbelievable clip right now."

* Thompson and Raptors rookie center Jonas Valanciunas will be linked forever. The Cavs had high interest in Valanciunas and were close to selecting him with the fourth pick in 2011, but couldn't lock down the terms of his buyout and ultimately passed. Valanciunas was playing in Lithuania and GM Chris Grant didn't want to be held hostage not knowing when Valanciunas would be available to play in the NBA. There was a divide within the Cavs over whom to select, Thompson or Valanciunas. The fact the Cavs couldn't get clear confirmation on when Valanciunas would be available swayed them toward Thompson ... and eventually Tyler Zeller.

* Scott said the key tonight is the point guard matchup between Irving and Jose Calderon simply because Calderon outplayed Irving in both meetings last season. The first head-to-head meeting was Irving's pro debut and the second was his first time playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Still, Calderon averaged 14 points, 11 assists and six rebounds against him. 

* Defense, of course, is an ongoing problem for Irving. Scott isn't willing to overlook the shortcomings just because of what Irving provides offensively. Most point guards in the league don't really defend. Scott didn't really have a reason why, but believes Irving can be an elite all-around player and a good defender. He just has to give more effort on defense -- even if that means giving up something on offense.

* The Raptors have won consecutive games for the first time this season. They pounded the Dallas Mavericks at home on Friday 95-74 and followed it up with a victory over Houston on Sundayt.  But they've dropped 11 straight on the road and are just 1-14 away from Air Canada Centre this season. 

* The Raptors are without Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry, but Landry Fields will dress tonight and is available. He has missed the last 20 games with a nerve problem in his right elbow.

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