On Saturday night, it was nice that ahead of the game, Donovan Mitchell, and additionally, from a bench perspective, Isaac Okoro, were seemingly set to be back in action soon for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Mitchell had been sidelined for the previous four games with a hamstring strain, and while Cleveland went 3-1 in that span, he gives them a different gear offensively.
Unfortunately, Cleveland would go on to lose a tough one on Saturday night against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, in the first leg of their latest back-to-back. Anthony Davis came up big, LeBron made a number of plays when it mattered most, and Mitchell did not have his best.
But there were positives from the outing, such as Jarrett Allen’s play and rebounding to some degree and Evan Mobley making things happen on defense, but Darius Garland would get banged up in that one and the offense wasn’t the same in the second half. Garland would exit in the mid-second quarter with a neck strain and did not return.
Next up for Cleveland, the Wine and Gold will try to get back in the win column versus the visiting Toronto Raptors on Sunday night, which will be a matchup of two current .500 teams. This marks the first of three games between Cleveland and Toronto this season.
Will the Cavaliers get back to their winning ways in their first matchup this year with the Raptors? Let’s take a closer look.
First off, let’s examine the injuries for this game.
Cavaliers-Raptors Injury Report:
Cavs injuries: Dean Wade (out, ankle); Ricky Rubio (out, Not With Team); Ty Jerome (out, ankle); Emoni Bates and Isaiah Mobley (out, G League - Two-Way); Darius Garland (questionable, neck).
Raptors injuries: Gradey Dick (G League - On Assingment); Christian Koloko (out, illness); Markquis Nowell, Javon Freeman-Liberty and Ron Harper Jr. (G League - Two-Way).
Cavs-Raptors TV Info
For those in respective markets and subscribed, this matchup will be on Bally Sports Ohio and AFN. Streaming options for this contest include NBA League Pass and Fubo TV.
In this contest, the Cavaliers could seemingly be without Garland, as he missed a prior game this week with a neck strain, and he hit his head on the floor in that LA loss and wouldn't return. If he is a no-go, the Cavaliers will have to find ways to generate consistent ball movement throughout, and not enable the Raptors to benefit and potentially force giveaways from overdribbling and stagnation.
In this game, though, whether or not Garland plays (he's questionable), the Cavaliers can't have the ball stick too much, and playing some through their bigs could pay dividends. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen are starting to generate quality looks for each other as Allen continues to get more comfortable, and if the Cavs move the ball here, that could pay off for creators like Mitchell later on, if Toronto starts to overcommit.
Regardless, however, for the Wine and Gold to get back on track in this contest, and look to reverse the negative trend on their current homestand, Mitchell being more effective could assuredly help their chances, along with being on-point enough defensively in the second half.
Mitchell was reportedly dealing with cramping (per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com), and seemed out of sorts in the closing moments in the Laker game, and after the contest, he emphasized how he was fine, so one would imagine he'll play on Sunday. Provided that's the case, if Cleveland can get the inside-out game working, partially with emerging two-way steal Craig Porter Jr. making plays, one could foresee the Cavs getting the job done here in their first matchup with the Raptors this season.
Prediction: Cavs 111, Raptors 107
Cavaliers Upcoming Schedule:
Following this Raps matchup, Cleveland will face the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday in a game where they’ll hope to keep their In-Season Tournament hopes alive.
Then Cleveland will host the Portland Trail Blazers when they’ll conclude their current five-game homestand before playing the Detroit Pistons on Saturday in the start of a four-game roadie.