The Toronto Raptors bounced back from a tough loss to the Washington Wizards (Without John Wall) with one of their most impressive outings of the season. Friday night they took down the Portland Trailblazers 130-105 on the second night of back-to-back. Sunday, they take on the Memphis Grizzlies in a noon tip-off as they look to start a new winning streak with their sights firmly set on tracking down the Boston Celtics for the number one seed in the East. Toronto heads into Sunday’s matchup with Memphis just two games back of the Celtics overall and only one game in the loss column. Annually an afterthought as a true contender, Toronto has a chance to prove that this year is different. Facing a struggling Grizzlies team is a good way to begin a win streak.
The Raptors are riding their high-powered offense averaging 111 points per game and following the lead of shooting guard DeMar DeRozan who has planted his name right in the middle of the MVP race with his recent play. DeRozan poured in a game-high 35 points against Portland behind six three-pointers as his improved outside shot has taken his game to another level. Yet, the biggest difference between Toronto this year and in seasons past is the improved play from their role players. DeRozan and Kyle Lowry no longer have to carry the load as the Raptors improved depth has been a key this season. Reserves Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell and others have provided a steady presence for Toronto and made them a more dangerous contender in the East. VanVleet has burst onto the scene recently and provided 16 points in their last contest.
On Sunday the Grizzlies come to the Air Canada Centre with a 18-33 record and as losers of their last two. Memphis is already down Mike Conley and has now benched wing Tyreke Evans as they search for a trade partner. The Grizzlies are having a down year and thus are attempting to get their younger guys more playing time. Nevertheless, Memphis always plays hard and cannot be overlooked. Noon tip-offs are always tough in the NBA and Sunday’s game is the typical “trap” game for Toronto with the Celtics being their next opponent on the schedule on Tuesday. The Raptors cannot afford to overlook Memphis for Boston as they attempt to catch the Celtics in the standings. If they want to do so, Sunday against the Grizzlies is a good place to start.
Boston is currently banged up as Kyrie Irving has missed a few games, along with other Celtics starters being in and out of the lineup. If Toronto wants to prove they are legit contenders, overtaking Boston for first place in the Eastern Conference would go a long way towards doing so. Now is the perfect time to build a winning streak and wins Sunday and Tuesday could be just the propeller that they need. To view the Raptors odds for the next game, visit www.skybook.ag.