After returning from the All-Star break with a big win against Boston, The Toronto Raptors now turn their focus to the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland comes into town after also winning their last game against the Orlando Magic. Previously, these two teams faced off on December 26th 2016 with Toronto pulling away late to seal a 95-91 victory. Sunday night’s showdown will be the final game of the two-game season series which, should be nothing short of exciting.
Currently, Portland sits tenth in the Western Conference and will most definitely come into Sunday’s contest looking for a victory. Toronto on the other hand, sits comfortably at fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Since their last meeting, both the Toronto Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers have both added new faces to their respective rosters. Mason Plumlee has since been traded to Denver for Jusif Nurkic and, Damian Lillard will be in the lineup this time around. Toronto has since added Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker however, Terrence Ross and Jared Sullinger are now playing for Orlando and Phoenix respectively.
It seems that every year Damian Lillard is snubbed from the Western Conference All-Star team, he goes on an absolute tear in the games following. After scoring 33 points in Portland’s win against Orlando this past Thursday, it seems as though business may just be starting to pick up for Lillard. Do not forget about CJ McCollum either. The 25-year-old scored 22 points and dished out 6 assists as well, in Portlands win Thursday. Unlike in their previous meeting, Toronto will now have to deal with trying to stop both Lillard and McCollum on Sunday. Keep your eye on newly acquired Jusuf Nurkic too. The 22-year-old had a double-double Thursday, against the Magic.
With Kyle Lowry out with a wrist injury Friday night, DeMar DeRozan stepped up, big time. Toronto’s All-Star Starter scored a career high 43 points and added 5 rebounds as well as, 5 assists. Canadian Cory Jospeh also made major contributions in the Raptors victory over the Celtics. In 36 minutes played, Jospeh scored 11 points and added 6 assists. Friday’s victory also served as a homecoming for basketball journeyman, PJ Tucker. The 31-year-old finished one point shy of a double-double, scoring nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds, in 29 minutes off the bench. Serge Ibaka also did not disappoint in his Raptors debut. In 36 minutes played, Ibaka scored 15 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, serving as a great addition to the Raptors starting five.
Both the Toronto Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers have seemingly worked their way out of pre All-Star Game skids. Toronto comes into Sundays matchup with a two game winning streak. Portland on the other hand, is currently riding a one game winning streak. For the new-look Raptors Sunday’s game will be another chance to show just how good they can be moving forward. If every member of the Raptors can once again contribute in the way they did against the Celtics, we should be in for an exciting contest Sunday. If you were hoping for Kyle Lowry return, do not get too excited. Raptors Head Coach Dwayne Casey recently said: it’s[the injury] is not a one-day thing.” Tip off Sunday is set for 6:00 PM EST.