Denver Nuggets vs Toronto Raptors: Lineups, preview & prediction 3/27/18

The Toronto Raptors look to start their final push for the top seed in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday night when they face a weary Denver Nuggets team.

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(Photo credit: michalkajzerek)

Toronto (54-20) still have a comfortable lead atop the Atlantic Division and in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they have suffered some slippage of late. The Raptors have dropped three of their last five games after a run of 18 wins in 19 games following their 117-106 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

Fred VanVleet and Jonas Valanciunas scored 16 points apiece as seven players finished in double figures, but it was Toronto’s vaunted bench mob who were outclassed in this contest. Ex-Raptor Lou Williams scored 20 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter as he led the Clippers reserves on a 16-0 tear to start the final period that the Raptors never recovered from.

It didn’t help that All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were held to 11 points each while combining to shoot seven of 22. VanVleet went four of six from 3-point range as the Raptors continued their blistering shooting from deep. They made 16 of 36 overall and have hit 74 of 165 (44.8 percent) from beyond the arc in their last five games. 

Denver (40-34) fell to 2-3 on their seven-game road trip as Philadelphia celebrated their first playoff berth in six years by pinning a 123-104 loss on the Nuggets on Monday night. Will Barton hit five 3-pointers and scored 25 points while Jamal Murray added 17, but Denver’s frontcourt trio of Wilson Chandler, Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic were a combined 12 for 33.

The loss dropped Denver two games behind Utah for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with eight games remaining. The Nuggets are 4-9 on the back end of games on consecutive nights, including a 4-7 mark on the road. Denver, though, have won their last such occasions on the road, posting victories at Phoenix and Cleveland.

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