The Toronto Raptors (3-2) snapped a two-game losing skid on their recent road trip by beating the Los Angeles Lakers, 101-92. Their All-Star backcourt of DeMar DeRozan (24 points) and Kyle Lowry (11 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists) delivered as expected, while their frontcourt of Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam combined for 36 points on 16-of-20 shooting. Siakam is on quite a hot streak, putting up 38 points on 17-of-22 shooting over his last two games.
They face a Portland Trail Blazers (4-2) team that had to work to beat a resurgent Phoenix Suns team at home, 114-107. Portland’s star backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 48 points, while Jusuf Nurkic, who has had a slow start to the season, chipped in with 17 points and nine rebounds. Lillard’s shooting has been way off to start the year, though, which is concerning. He’s now down to just 37 percent from the field after an ugly 7-of-21 showing against the Suns.
Three keys to the game
Backcourt battle – Everyone knows these two teams are run by their respective backcourts. Neither one has played incredibly well to start the year, but the pairing that can get it together will likely lead their team to victory in this matchup.
Center support – While the guards will take center stage, the centers will play a key role as the third options. Ibaka has been solid and is currently the team’s second-leading scorer, although Nurkic is slowly getting it together after a lackluster start to the season.
Defense – The Raptors and the Blazers are two of the most efficient offenses in the league and have been for some time. However, they are both also well within the top 10 in defensive efficiency this season, and this game will likely be decided on that end of the court.
Matchup to watch
Kyle Lowry vs Damian Lillard – The two All-Star point guards have been struggling with their shot. Lillard is averaging 22 points on 37 percent shooting, while Lowry has been even worse with just 12 points per game on 35 percent from the field. Both teams will need their respective point guards to deliver a vintage performance to come out on top in this matchup.
Raptors projected starting lineup
PG – Kyle Lowry | SG – DeMar DeRozan | SF – Norman Powell | PF – Pascal Siakam | C – Serge Ibaka
Trail Blazers projected starting lineup
PG – Damian Lillard | SG – CJ McCollum | SF – Maurice Harkless | PF – Al-Farouq Aminu | C – Jusuf Nurkic
While Siakam has been surprisingly productive offensively, he’s having his problems defensively and opposing power forwards have taken advantage. The Raptors are currently giving up the second-most fantasy points to power forwards, which is good news for the Blazers’ Al-Farouq Aminu.
This one is close to call with two teams looking pretty evenly matched. But with Lillard playing somewhat better than Lowry and home-court advantage in their favor, the Blazers look like the right side to cover a two-point spread.
The Blazers do enough to edge out the Raptors, 109-105.
This game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Northwest and TSN. Tip-off at Moda Center is at 10 pm Eastern Time.
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