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- Cavaliers rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters (left ankle sprain) will start in his first game since Dec. 1. The No. 4 pick in the NBA Draft, who sat out the last eight contests, is averaging 15.2 points and 3.4 assists. Waiters joins point guard Kyrie Irving, small forward Alonzo Gee, power forward Tristan Thompson, and center Anderson Varejao in the lineup. “Kyrie and Dion have similar strengths, with both of them having great speed and quickness,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Their ability to get to the basket makes them very difficult to defend.” Also back in uniform for Cleveland is small forward Omri Casspi (stomach flu), who has been sidelined for three games.
- Toronto small forward Landry Fields (right elbow surgery) is active, but Casey said he plans on “working him in slowly” and would not commit to playing him against the Cavaliers. The third-year pro has missed the past 20 games – last playing on Nov. 7 at Dallas — since undergoing ulnar nerve transposition surgery for a hand/wrist injury. ”I like the rhythm of how Alan (Anderson), DeMar (DeRozan), (Mickael) Pietrus and all the wing players we have are playing with, so I don’t want to break that up right now by forcing Landry back in too quickly,” Casey said.
- Though reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Irving and Waiters are the two young players the Cavaliers are building around, this is only the 11th time they have played together because of injuries (Cleveland is 2-8 coming into tonight). As a result, coach Byron Scott made point guard Jeremy Pargo a healthy scratch against the Raptors. Pargo has started 11 games this season — all when Irving was sidelined with a broken left index finger — and is averaging 10.5 points and 3.3 assists.
- Toronto is seeking its first three-game winning streak of the season, but is also riding an 11-game road losing skid. The Raptors’ lone victory away from Air Canada Centre came on Nov. 13 at Indiana. Their starting lineup is center Jonas Valanciunas, power forward Ed Davis, small forward Pietrus, shooting guard DeRozan, and point guard Jose Calderon.
- Toronto’s inactives are center Andrea Bargnani (right elbow ligament tear, right wrist strain) and point guard Kyle Lowry (right triceps tear), while Cleveland is not dressing Pargo and power forward Jon Leuer (NBA D-League assignment with Canton Charge).
– Brian Dulik