Raptors-Cavaliers Preview

The Toronto Raptors were just victimized by a performance that surpassed the great Michael Jordan.

Now they have to face LeBron James, who may be at less than full strength.

James is battling an illness as he leads the Cleveland Cavaliers into Monday night's home game against the Raptors.

Toronto (21-14) failed to sweep a three-game homestand thanks to Sunday's 115-113 loss to Chicago. The Raptors gave up 40 second-half points to Jimmy Butler, who broke Jordan's team record for points in a half of 39.

"We tried everybody and everything, couldn't get him stopped," coach Dwane Casey said.

Now Toronto will be challenged to slow down James, though an illness may aid its cause. The superstar has been battling sickness, though it did little to prevent him from scoring 29 in 29 minutes in Saturday's 104-79 rout of Orlando.

James took part in Sunday's practice.

''Hopefully I can try to shake whatever I got going on and it doesn't linger the next couple days," he said.

The Cavaliers (22-9) have won three straight since moving Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup over Timofey Mozgov. They are 5-1 when Thompson starts, with the lone defeat a 103-99 loss at Toronto on Nov. 25.

"It's something that is not etched in stone," coach David Blatt said. "We may situationally or maybe philosophically go back, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see that happen."

Kyrie Irving is expected to start again after he made 4 of 12 shots for 13 points in his fifth game as he works his way back from knee surgery.

Iman Shumpert is also looking to find the range after shooting 39.3 percent in nine games after being out due to a wrist injury.

"I still think both of those guys are kind of in their preseason," Blatt said. "I'm not saying they're not ready to play or that they're not playing well because they are but neither one is really in 100 percent basketball shape right now."

While James' excellence isn't surprising as the Eastern Conference's top scorer at 25.8 points per game, it may be news that Toronto's DeMar DeRozan is third at 23.0. DeRozan is averaging 27.0 points in his last three games and went into Sunday second in the NBA with 11.8 drives per game. He's third with an average of 8.5 free-throw attempts.

The Cavaliers didn't have Irving, Shumpert, Mozgov and Matthew Dellavedova due to injuries in the November loss at Toronto. James scored 24 and Kevin Love added 21 while every Raptors starter scored in double figures, with Kyle Lowry scoring 27 and DeRozan contributing 20.

The Raptors held the Cavs to 43.9 percent shooting. That kind of defense was absent Sunday, as the Bulls became just the second team in the last 23 games to shoot better than 50 percent against the Raptors, who allowed them to shoot 63.2 percent in a 34-point fourth quarter.

''We can't give up 34 points in the fourth quarter,'' Casey said. ''You have to put your foot down, put your foot on their neck and close it out."

Lowry has posted consecutive double-doubles, registering 22 points and 10 assists Sunday.