One of the Toronto Raptors‘ biggest enemies could be heading to one of their main rivals.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst joined Dean Blundell & Co. on Friday to weigh in on the Joe Johnson rumours, saying the Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers may want the veteran to serve as a Kryptonite for the second-place Raptors.
“One of the reasons the Cavs want Joe Johnson is because they look at this Cory Joseph, Kyle Lowry backcourt, and they want something to deal with that,” Windhorst said. “They want a big two guard so they can punish the Raptors for putting Lowry on him.”
The lineup Windhorst is referring to consists of Lowry, Joseph, Patrick Patterson, Terrence Ross and Bismack Biyombo. That group currently ranks as the most effective in the league in terms of net rating per 100 possessions (minimum 150 minutes played). Adding Johnson, who dominated the Raptors in the 2014 playoffs due to his size and strength, would theoretically help the Cavaliers neutralize that unit.
As for Toronto’s chances of landing the seven-time all-star’s services? Windhorst tells fans not to hold their breath.
“If the Raptors get Joe Johnson, I will be flabbergasted,” Windhorst said. “It would be an arrival for the franchise because right now he’s got Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Miami and Atlanta. So the Raptors, in my mind, are at least fifth in that line.”
Even though Toronto sits within striking distance of overtaking Cleveland for the Eastern Conference’s top spot, Windhorst doesn’t see the Raptors being able to defeat the Cavaliers in a playoff series.
“I don’t think the Raptors can beat the Cavaliers in four games out of seven with the way both teams are currently constituted,” Windhorst said. “The Raptors know tonight’s game is important. If they win tonight, they win the tiebreaker, they take the season series and they get to two games back. I don’t think they can beat them four out of seven, but I think they can scare them.”