The Toronto Raptors are putting their winning streak on the line tonight, as they face the lowly Denver Nuggets in the Mile High City tonight.
The Raptors (32-15) are coming off 11 consecutive wins, including a sweep of a seven game home-stand, winning at a marginal deficit of 12.9 points. The impressive part, is the Raptors’ wins against the Brooklyn Nets, the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Washington Wizards; teams that the Raptors have either rivalled against in the past few seasons, or some of the league’s best. The Raps are looking for revenge, thanks to dropping the last meeting between these two teams.
For Denver (18-30), they’re coming off an overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers; offensive issues with poor shooting and turnovers being the elements of falling short on Saturday night.
Raptors Cage’s Keys To The Game
Control The Pace
The Raptors are travelling into the tough airs of Denver, making it hard to breathe, and making it tough for the Raptors to run up and down the court. The Nuggets’ players should already be acclimated to the elevation, a reason for the organization historically known for fast break offence. The Raptors have one of the slowest paces in the league, especially during the seven game home-stand. Controlling the pace, and slowing the game down – usually by taking smart shots, taking up possessions, and pressure defence – will be the key.
Following from the previous pace point, the Nuggets are full of young kids that struggle in a half-court offence. Pressuring them will force to them into making quick decisions; they struggle with taking care of the basketball, and they struggle to find points if it’s not from transition, or in any numbers situation.
Find Danilo Gallinari
Despite injuries, Gallinari is still a very talented player, mainly from the perimeter. The eight-year swingman from Italy is lethal from past the three-point line, not to mention has a major size advantage at 6’10 over most of the swing defenders in the league. With the game going small, there’s a possibility he’s stationed at the four-man tonight, which might be a hassle for Luis Scola and company to deal with.
X-Factor: Jonas Valanciunas
If the Raptors want to slow the game down, and play it at their pace, dealing JV the touches will be important, mainly because there’s not a single big man that’s either offensively, or defensively at his level. This should be an easy cheque for JV, if, he gets the touches.