Monday, December 5, 2022
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Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors will try to extend their winning streak to six games Friday night when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Raptors, who are 6-3 to open the season, finished a three-game road trip with a 109-100 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

“We’ve learned many years that these wins do matter towards the end of the year as you start to fight for playoff position,” said Fred VanVleet, who scored a season-best 33 points on Wednesday. “So I like where we are, but we have a long, long, long way to go but I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

The Raptors have won four straight on the road but are 2-3 at home.

VanVleet said he is not taking the team’s recent success for granted.

“Did you watch us last year?” he said. “Yeah, I’m not taking none of this for granted.”

The 5-4 Cavaliers have won two in a row after a 107-104 home victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. They are 3-3 on the road.

With the win over the Trail Blazers, the Cavaliers continued their success against playoff-caliber teams. They also have defeated the Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.

“It’s giving us confidence,” said Darius Garland, who had 19 points and 10 assists on Wednesday. “It’s showing our group that we can really beat really good teams in this league. We just have to get better every day.”

“Our guys are thriving off the competition right now and that’s giving us a chance every night,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.

Cleveland had 24 points and a season-best 17 rebounds from Jarrett Allen and 21 points from Collin Sexton against Portland.

“I have looked at the Cavs. I don’t know if many other people have, but they’re very good,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “Very, very good. They know who they are, and they bring it with some tenacity of ‘We’re here to play this year.’ Very good team coming in here.”

Allen has four double-doubles this season and is shooting 55-for-78 (.705) to rank third in the NBA in field goal percentage. He has recorded a steal in five straight games, the longest streak of his career.

“Everything he does is going at the rim,” Bickerstaff said. “When you put that type of pressure on people, it’s hard to guard. I’m watching him and his footwork, he’s finishing with the left hand or right hand. He’s got quickness and speed that’s harder for bigger guys to guard. We know when we throw him the ball, he’s going to get you within two feet and get a good shot.”

OG Anunoby, who scored a career-best 36 points against the New York Knicks on Monday, had 21 points against the Wizards.

Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes (sprained right thumb), who has missed the past two games, received clearance to play on Friday.

Pascal Siakam (shoulder surgery) has yet to play this season for Toronto.

“He’s making progress,” Nurse said. “He continues to practice at full contact. We’re going to get one more check with the doctor, and we should not be that far away.”

Cavaliers forward Lauri Markkanen joined teammate Kevin Love on the health and safety protocol list Wednesday and did not play against Portland.

Toronto was 2-1 against Cleveland last season.

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