The Toronto Raptors will look for a win against the Orland Magic at 4:30 ET, in the Air Canada Centre.
At the start of the season this did not look like it would be a big game, but with the number 1 seed now almost in reach the Toronto Raptors know how important a win would be at the this Sunday afternoon. Since getting swept in the season series against Chicago, the Toronto Raptors have bounced back to win their past 3 match ups, all against middle ranking Eastern conference opposition.
A win for Toronto will be their 48th of the season and give them a good chance to get over 50 before the end of March, it would also be a huge step closer to the number seed after Cleveland lost to Miami yesterday. The last time the Raptors faced Orlando it was a London OT thriller in which Toronto eventually prevailed 106-103. Despite their record the Magic have some strong wins this season and are trying to keep alive their distant play off hopes, one of those upset victories came at the Raptors expense when the two sides met early November when the Magic came out 92-87 winners. In recent games though Orlando has struggled having won just 2 of the past 8, they did the Raptors no favours in their most recent game, losing a close one to the Cleveland Cavaliers who are now only 1.5 games ahead of Toronto in the Eastern standings.
It has been stated that DeMarre Carroll should return in late March but no date has bee set, so tonight may be too early to see him back. Starting centre Jonas Valanciunas has missed the past 3 due to a bruised hand, it remains uncertain if he will play tonight and will likely be a game time decision. With the Cavaliers spot now so close it would be wise to hold off any resting for All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. The Orlando Magic are may be missing Elfrid Payton tonight, who has missed the last 5 with an elbow injury and Nikola Vucevic is still out while recovering from a longer term groin injury. Against the Cavaliers Victor Oladipo scored a career high 45 points and is Orlando’s in form player right now.
Projected starting line ups. Toronto: DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola, Norman Powell and Bismack Biyombo. Orlando: Brandon Jennings, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Dewayne Dedmon.
Although historically it is often a close game between the two teams the Raptors have won 12 of the past 13 match ups against Orlando.
Cage’s Keys to the game
Win the individual match ups
DeMar DeRozan against Victor Oladipo is the most interesting dual as two in form players go head to head, while the Point Guard battle between the experienced Lowry and Jennings also shapes up as a key contest. Neither team has their starting centre so Biyombo and Dedmon have a chance to show what they can do with increased minutes. If the Raptors can each take care of business in their own area it should translate to a win for everyone.
Utilize Kyle Lowry
The Magic defence has dropped off since the two last met and three of the past four games Orlando has allowed the opponent to shoot above 50%. Kyle Lowry is one of the leagues in form players. Tonight he comes up against Brandon Jennings in a battle he should win individually, hopefully the Magic defensive woes continue and Lowry can have another big night.
Focus for all 48
The Orlando Magic have been one of those teams that seems capable of making a run at any time, often allowing them back into losing games. Their bench can also pack a punch boasting the likes of Jason Smith, Ersan Illyasova and rookie Mario Herzonja. The Raptors have also given up some big leads on occasion so staying strong for the entire game will be important.
X-Factor- Norman Powell
The Shooting Guard out of UCLA has made his mark and is looking to make a name for himself. Tonight against Orlando he has a big chance to continue to make improvement and show progress with another start likely. If he can take over as he did earlier this week the Raptors should have no trouble getting past the Magic and closing in on the number 1 seed in the East.