Team Records: Toronto (4-17) at Portland (8-12)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Portland -3.5
Refs: Rodney Mott, David Jones, James Williams.
The Skinny: After an ugly loss Saturday to the Kings at home which saw both Batum and Matthews go down injured, the Blazers look to rebound against a reeling Raptors squad. After losing several close games in a row, the Raptors have been blown out two games in a row and appear to once again, be stuck in the sort of the NBA hell that is perpetually being awful with not a lot of hope for improvement.
Last Season: The Blazers won the only game last year between the two teams, which took place in Toronto. Portland has won seven straight vs. the Raptors.
Projected Raptors Lineup:
PF-Andrea Bargnani (Italy-7th Season) 17 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.4 APG.
SF-Linas Kleza (Missouri-7th Season)-6.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, .8 APG.
C-Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania-Rookie)- 8.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.2 APG
SG-DeMar Derozan (USC-4th Season)-18.1 PPG, 5 RPG, 1.9 APG.
PG-Kyle Lowry (Villanova-7th Season)-17.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.9 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 least a fun player on a bad team.
Did You Know?: When Toronto scores 100 points in a home game, instead of the chalupas 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: “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies-One of Toronto’s best known musical acts in honor of the one week its been since Portland last won a game. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), Doubtful-SF Nicolas Batum (Back), Questionable-SG Wesley Matthews (Hip Flexor).
Toronto: Out-SG Alan Anderson (Foot), SF Landry Fields (Elbow).
One should have known that a franchise founded with a mascot looked eerily like Barney the purple dinosaur wasn’t going to get much luck on the court. After losing Bosh two years ago, the Raptors have floundered between being awful and now being awful and awfully unlucky. Toronto has a knack for finding ways to lose close games nearly every single time, going only 2-10 in games decided by single digits. As a result, you need to look past the Raptors statistical profile, which looks only marginally worse than Portland on offense and just as bad on defense, to see that they are truly not as bad as their record. They can score points, they can rebound, they do a pretty good job taking care of the ball for such a fast-paced team, they just can’t stop anyone, especially late in games. Add to that the fact that Andrea Bargnani has reverted to his usual low-efficiency self and you have a recipe for another lost season for Canada’s only NBA franchise.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Play decent defense. Without Batum and possibly without Matthews, this game is actually a bit of a tossup. For Portland to win they will have to exploit Toronto’s weak D and play some at least solidish D of their own.
Toronto wins if: They score 110 points. The Raptors can’t stop anyone but they are a decent offensive team. If they top 110 Monday night, they will almost certainly prevail on the court.