The reigning NBA champions bounced back from their loss at Memphis in emphatic fashion on Monday night, routing the Dallas Mavericks 133-103 to cap a three-game road swing with two wins. Stephen Curry scored 29 points, Kevin Durant added 25 and Klay Thompson had 21 for Golden State (2-2), which shot a season-high 55.8 percent and had 33 assists on its 48 baskets.
Curry has yet to get on track from 3-point range, hitting just 36.6 percent (15 for 41) from beyond the arc. But he’s compensated by getting to the foul line consistently and has made 39 free throws without a miss to start the season. It also helps when teammates pick up the slack as Durant, Thompson and newcomer Nick Young have combined to make 40 of 80 3-point attempts.
Toronto (2-1) kicked off their six-game road swing with a 101-97 setback at San Antonio on Monday night. DeMar DeRozan scored 28 points, but the Raptors missed the presence of injured starting center Jonas Valanciunas on both ends of the court, giving up 18 offensive rebounds while being outscored 58-42 in the paint and getting just four points from Valanciunas’ replacement Lucas Nogueira.
Valanciunas is questionable for this game because of his sprained left ankle, though Jakob Poeltl provided solid contributions as the No. 2 center with ten points and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes. While Poeltl also blocked three shots, his defense is an issue since the Raptors were outscored by 13 points when he was on the court.
Three Keys to the Game
Toronto must keep shooting 3-pointers - The Raptors' offense is still a work in progress, evidenced by their 10 for 37 effort from beyond the arc at San Antonio. But there were many open looks among those misses, and given how the absence of Valanciunas plays into a more up-tempo game with the run-and-gun Warriors, Lowry and DeRozan must not be shy about firing from long range.
Passing up a good shot for a better one - Much is rightfully said about Golden State's prolific 3-point shooting, but what makes the Warriors elite offensively is their ability to move the ball quickly to create open shots. Golden State leads the NBA with .69 assists per basket and is second in 2-point shooting at 56.7 percent. It will be a challenge in this game given Toronto's 46.2 defensive field goal percentage on 2-point shots is second only to the Los Angeles Clippers, but pushing the tempo will help negate some of that defensive efficiency.
Golden State's bench mob - The second five of the Warriors - Young, Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, David West and JaVale McGee could be competitive as a starting five against most teams. But off the bench, they are a formidable unit that is highly effective. A large part of this is Young being a good 3-point shooter, but Golden State's reserves are averaging 35.3 points while shooting 58.5 percent. This goes back to ball movement and that everyone on the Warriors knows what a good shot is.
Matchup to Watch
Serge Ibaka vs. Kevin Durant - The former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates have met just once as opponents, with the Warriors cruising to a 118-98 victory while Ibaka played at Orlando last season. Durant went 5 of 12 from the field but did have ten rebounds and six assists. Ibaka has to be Toronto's defensive leader in the frontcourt without Valanciunas, and he showed some fire in San Antonio, getting into a shoving match with LaMarcus Aldridge before the two had to be separated by teammates. Durant has averaged 26.2 points while shooting 40.7 percent from 3-point range in 16 lifetime games against the Raptors, so this could be a bellwether if Toronto can hang with Golden State.
Toronto Raptors Projected Starting Line-up
PG - Kyle Lowry | SG - DeMar DeRozan | C - Lucas Nogueira | SF - Norman Powell | PF - Serge Ibaka
Golden State Warriors Projected Starting Line-up
PG - Stephen Curry | SG - Klay Thompson | C - Zaza Pachulia | SF - Draymond Green | PF - Kevin Durant
It's probably a good thing for the Raptors they only face Curry twice a season. The Warriors star guard has averaged 31.7 points on 53.8 percent shooting, including 47.4 percent from 3-point range, in their last nine meetings. He's also averaged 8.4 assists in those games, helping Golden State to eight wins.
DeRozan has only shot 39.0 percent in his last four games against Golden State, but he's also averaged 26.7 points in those games because he's made 42 of 48 from the foul line. The 28-year-old has also contributed 5.3 assists per game in that span.
Even if DeRozan wasn't trying to shake off the thigh bruise that caused him to miss practice, this is a game that appears tailor-made for the Warriors on many fronts. Golden State is 11-1 against the spread in its last 12 home games versus Toronto and also 14-3-1 in its last 18 games when playing on one day of rest. The Raptors have also struggled against the number after a loss, going 1-4-1 against the spread in their last six such instances. The over has hit the last four games between the teams and the last eight times they've played in Golden State, so the play of the Warriors and the over could be a good combo.
Sometimes the game becomes very simple when you see the ball go in the basket. That was the case for Golden State in its romp at Dallas, and it also served as a reminder the Warriors don't have to hit 3-pointers at their usual lofty percentage to win comfortably. They are 58-2 since the start of 2014/15 when recording 33 or more assists, though one of them came in their season-opening loss to Houston. The Raptors need to see the ball go in the basket, partly because they are still working into their new half court offense. Toronto is shooting just 32.7 percent from 3-point range, but without Valanciunas, they must get better efforts on the perimeter from Norman Powell and Delon Wright to back up Lowry and Ibaka. Look for Golden State to keep rolling with a 127-107 victory.
The game will be televised locally by Sportsnet One and NBC Sports Bay Area. Tip-off time is 10pm ET.
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