Team Records: Portland (7-2) at Toronto (4-6)
Game Info: 10 AM -TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM.
Vegas Line: Toronto -2.5
The Skinny: After a routine win Friday in Boston, the Blazers travel north to Canada’s only NBA city as they look to make it six wins in a row in a Sunday matinee. The Raptors come in off a blowout home loss to Chicago on Friday but have been playing better than their record. Toronto was 7-5 at home last year in 1 PM Eastern time tipoffs.
Last Season: The two teams split the season series, with both winning at home. Toronto’s win over Portland in early January snapped the eight-game Blazers win streak in the series.
Projected Raptors Lineup:
PF-Amir Johnson (Westchester (HS)-9th Season) 10.2 PPG, 7 RPG, 1.3 APG.
SF-Rudy Gay (Connecticut-8th Season)-19.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.8 APG.
C-Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania-2nd Season)- 8.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG, .6 APG
SG-DeMar Derozan (USC-5th Season)-19.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.7 APG.
PG-Kyle Lowry (Villanova-8th Season)-12.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5.5 APG.
Player to Watch-DeMar Derozan (Pictured at right)-Derozan is a fun player to watch because he is one of the NBA’s best dunkers. Derozan’s catalog of amazing dunks seemingly grows by the game. He also draws a lot of fouls and shoots a good percentage from the line. However, too often on offense he chooses to take long 2s and 3s, which is simply awful at. Derozan also seems to be completely unaware that one can pass the ball and only passes as a last resort. On defense, when he focuses he can do fine. However, he rarely focuses and is beaten off the dribble far too often. Still, he is at worst fun to watch.
Did You Know?: When Toronto scores 100 points in a home game, instead of the McMuffins or tacos other fanbases get, fans get coupons for a free slice of pizza at a local chain called “Pizza Pizza”.
Song of the Day: “Crack Rock” by Frank Ocean-In honor of Toronto’s crack smoking mayor Rob Ford. Enjoy
Portland: Out-PG CJ McCollum (Foot), C Meyers Leonard (Illness)
This Toronto Raptors team is a lot like their predecessors, fairly fun, not too fast paced but there is one big difference. Toronto plays defense now. The Raptors were ranked 22nd in defensive efficiency last year, and are all the way up to 7th this year. Yet it is not because they do a good job defending shots, as they allow the opponent to make 46% of their attempts, near the bottom of the league. They do, however, do a very good job on perimeter defense, allowing opponents to make only 32% of their attempts from deep. Their secret, rebounding. Toronto does a great job limiting you to one shot and eliminiating second chance opportunities. On offense Toronto is what they always have been, a bunch of streaky shooters who, if they get hot can hurt opponents but if they struggle can easily shoot their team out of the game. They will be no easy foe for Portland to dispatch Sunday.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They hold Toronto under 100 points. Toronto may be improved on defense but they are not as good as they numbers would indicate. If the Blazers score 100, they should prevail.
Toronto wins if: They limit Portland’s 3 point makes. The keys to most Blazers win this year has been timely three point makes. If Toronto can limit that Sunday, they should win.