|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)00:0019:00 ET5:00 PM CT22:00 , March 11, 2019
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio Attendance: 19,432
Raptors look to sweep road trip at Cleveland
Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers
- The Raptors have won two games in a row, including a 125-104 win at Miami yesterday. Toronto tied a franchise record for made three-pointers in that game, shooting 21-for-40 (52.5 percent) from beyond the arc. The Raptors are 19-1 (.950) this season when shooting at least 40.0 percent from three.
- Since the All-Star break, the Cavaliers rank fourth in the NBA in three-point percentage (38.8 percent) and fifth in three-pointers made per game (14.8). Cleveland has made at least a dozen three-pointers in 12 consecutive games -- only Houston has a longer-active streak of making at least 12 threes (18 games).
- Kyle Lowry reached 500 assists on the season in his 55th game, tying the mark Jose Calderon set in 2010-11 for fewest player games needed to 500 assists in a single season in franchise history.
- Collin Sexton scored his 1000th career point at the age of 20 years and 63 days last game, becoming the second-youngest Cavalier all-time to reach the milestone behind LeBron James (19 years, 41 days).
- Lineups featuring Danny Green, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet have outscored opponents by 20.2 points per 100 possessions this season, the highest mark by any three-man combination in the NBA (minimum five minutes played per team game as a combination).
- The Raptors have won all three matchups with the Cavaliers this season -- a win tonight would give Toronto its third ever season-series sweep against Cleveland, and first since the 2000-01 season (4-0).
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Toronto has 15 games remaining on its regular-season schedule, and the Raptors (48-19) sit entrenched in second place in the Eastern Conference.
They still have a chance to overtake Milwaukee for the top spot in the East -- after Sunday's 125-104 win against Miami, Toronto entered Sunday 2 1/2 games (three in the loss column) behind Milwaukee.
The Raptors clinched a playoff spot Saturday when Milwaukee beat Charlotte. Toronto being in the playoffs was a lock. Another lock: Toronto's playoff nemesis the past three years, the Cleveland Cavaliers, will not be in the postseason.
The Raptors get one final look at the Cavaliers (16-50) on Monday when they travel to Cleveland. Toronto can sweep the season series, having won the first three games by an average of 13 points.
Cleveland needs to find a way to stop Kawhi Leonard, who is averaging 31.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game against Cleveland this year.
The Cavaliers will be without Matthew Dellavedova (concussion) and might be without Larry Nance Jr. (chest), both of whom are listed as day-to-day.
Despite the Raptors' regular-season success against the Cavaliers, Toronto head coach Nick Nurse is concerned about his team's uneven play of late, especially since Fred VanVleet injured his thumb. VanVleet is not expected back for another 10 days.
"I can really see ... big leaps forward, and then a step back," Nurse told the Toronto Star before the Raptors embarked on a three-game road trip that ends in Cleveland. "We've got to get to that point where it's just steady steps going forward, and not that step back."
Toronto had dropped three of five games before reeling off road wins against New Orleans and Miami.
"We have to play harder as a group and continue to get better," point guard Kyle Lowry said. "Nothing's going to be given to you on any given night."
That's true when playing the Cavaliers. Despite having the league's third-worst record, Cleveland is 4-4 since the All-Star break. The Cavs had legitimate chances to go 7-1 in that stretch, but faltered late in three of the losses.
Kevin Love's return from foot surgery has made a big difference, but so has the play of rookie guard Collin Sexton. Sexton is averaging 15.2 points and shooting 38.8 percent from beyond the arc. He's made strides in his decision making and seems to gain confidence with every game.
"Playing point guard sometimes calls for sacrifices as far as getting other players involved," Cavaliers coach Larry Drew told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Collin is a scoring point guard. He likes to score and can score, but sometimes you have to get your other guys rolling."
Sexton has come a long way since his first game, when he was held to nine points by the Raptors in the season opener.
In a loss to Miami on Friday, Sexton proved doubters wrong when he earned a piece of Cavaliers history breaking Kyrie Irving's rookie record for made 3-pointers (76).
"It's pretty cool because people been saying I can't shoot," Sexton said after the game. "I just got to keep proving them wrong."
While Cleveland is relegated to player development and playing spoiler, Nurse is trying to figure out how best his new players -- Marc Gasol, Jeremy Lin and Jodie Meeks -- fit in.
If the postseason started tomorrow, Nurse said his team would be in good shape.
"We know who we are and where we're going," he said.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 10, 2019