Team Records: Portland (43-20) at Toronto (39-26)
Game Info: 4 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM.
Vegas Line: Toronto -2
Refs: Bill Spooner, Courtney Kirkland, Leon Wood
The Skinny: The Blazers begin a five-game road trip in Toronto as they take on the struggling Raptors. After a hot start to the year, the Raptors have hit the breaks as of late, losing nine of their last eleven. Toronto is 12-13 against the west this year.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers prevailed in a wild affair back in December, blowing a late lead in regulation and being forced to OT, where Lillard then took over, leading the Blazers to a 102-97 OT victory. Dame led Portland with 26 points in the win, while Lowry led Toronto with 25 points in a losing effort.
Projected Raptors Lineup:
PF-Amir Johnson (Westchester (HS)-10th Season)-9.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.5 APG.
SF-Terrence Ross (Washington-3rd Season)-9.9 PPG, 3 RPG, 1 APG.
C-Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania-3rd Season)-12 PPG, 8.6 RPG, .4 APG
SG-DeMar DeRozan (USC-6th Season)-18.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.2 APG.
PG-Kyle Lowry (Villanova-9th Season)-16.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 7.6 APG.
Player to Watch-Kyle Lowry (Pictured at right)-Lowry finally earned a much deserved first-all star appearance last month, something that was at least a year overdue. Lowry has improved from a marginal shooter to a decent one, especially from deep. Lowry also turns the ball over very rarely for a starting point guard and is a decent enough defender. He may not be the best in the NBA but he certainly deserved that all-star bid as a key part of why Toronto is as good as they are.
Did You Know?: The Raptors slogan is “We the North” but they are actually to the south of Portland and Minneapolis.
Song of the Day: “Blame Canada” from the South Park Movie-Blame Canada indeed. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG-Wesley Matthews (Achilles), PF/C Joel Freeland (Suspension)
Re-Evaluating Toronto: Growing Pains
Toronto roared out of the gate faster than almost any team, racing ahead of the east and appearing to be the stiffest challengers to LeBron and co. Yet, they have hit the skids the last few months and there are many reasons. The first is schedule, they played a much easier schedule the first part of the year and their tougher schedule as of late is catching up to them (although they did manage to lose to the Knicks, which is almost strangely impressive). The second is really luck more than anything, they had a habit early in the year of winning seemingly every close game and now they’re losing more than they win. That will tend to balance itself out. Toronto will be fine, they are probably not title contenders but they are improving and are, at least, a fun team to watch.
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 hold Toronto under 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.