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Cleveland Cavaliers

Pregame: Raptors at Cavs

By Jason Lloyd Published: March 13, 2012

Toronto Raptors (13-28) at Cleveland Cavaliers (16-23)
Time: 7 p.m.; Venue: Quicken Loans Arena; TV/Radio: Fox Sports Ohio/WTAM, WAKR, WHBC
Cavs probables: PG Kyrie Irving (18.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 5.4 apg), SG Anthony Parker (6.1, 2.2, 2.1), SF Alonzo Gee (10.3, 4.3, 1.6), PF Antawn Jamison (18.6, 6.6, 2.0), C Ryan Hollins (3.9, 2.3, 0.3)
Raptors probables: PG Jerryd Bayless (10.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.3 apg), SG DeMar DeRozan (16.3, 3.5, 1.9), SF James Johnson (8.4, 4.9, 2.0), PF Andrea Bargnani (21.7, 6.3, 2.1), C Amir Johnson (7.5, 6.7, 1.3)
Injury report: Cavs -- Anderson Varejao (wrist) out; Raptors -- Jose Calderon (ankle) out
Officials: Michael Smith, David Jones, Kevin Scott

* The Raptors will be without starting point guard Jose Calderon tonight, which is a big loss. Calderon has played well in two meetings against the Cavs this season, averaging 14 points, six rebounds and 11 assists. Jerryd Bayless will replace huim in the starting lineup, but Bayless has a scorer's mentality and Calderon is a true facilitator.

* Kyrie Irving has been lousy in two games against the Raptorts, but there were extenuating circumstances in both. The first game was his pro debut and the second meeting was his first time playing on the second night of a back-to-back. As a result, he is 5 of 25 from the floor this year against the Raptors and coach Byron Scott said this morning they are probably the two worst games he's played all season. No excuses tonight.

* Scott thinks Irving might be getting too passive with his own looks and too worried about setting up everyone else. While that's obviously important for a point guard, Scott wants him to remain aggressive looking for his own shots. The Cavs need Irving to score this season in order to have any chance at winning.

* Irving is just 9 of 27 shooting his last two games and Scott believes part of the reason for that might be his obsession with involving everyone else.

* It was interesting to hear Ramon Sessions say this morning that the Cavs play so hard, he feels it physically at this time of the season. Sessions said this team plays harder than any other team he has been on. Scott said it has to be that way. It's actually quite pathetic, but the Cavs are one of the few teams in the league who play hard every single night. It's a big reason they're in the playoff hunt.

* As Scott said this morning, when the Cavs don't play hard, all of their flaws are exposed. And there are plenty of holes on this roster. But the Cavs outwork their opponent almost every night, which has allowed them to win games they have no business winning from a pure talent standpoint.

* Every game between now and the end of the season is important if the Cavs are to make the playoffs, but the next two nights are really big. The Raptors are a team the Cavs should beat at home, then they travel to Milwaukee tomorrow to face the Bucks. The Cavs are technically behind the Bucks in the standings, but ahead of them in the loss column, which is the only thing that really matters in postseason races.

* After tomorrow's game, the Cavs have three days off to prepare for the final push. It's the last time the Cavs will have three days off between games this season. In fact, there's only one more stretch (April 1 and 2) when they'll have more than one day off between games. The end of the season is a flurry, so the Cavs have to take advantage of this week if they want to remain in the race for No. 8.

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