The Toronto Raptors (11-20) look to start off the New Year in the win column, as they host the Portland Trail-Blazers (16-14) tonight at the Air Canada Centre. This will be the first of a six-game home stand for the Raptors, who have played just twelve home games all year. Only the Denver Nuggets, (11), have played fewer home games than the Raptors this season. A side from that, the Raptors look to continue their recent success, as they seek their eighth victory in nine games. Despite the success however, the Blazers have had the Raptors’ number for quite some time, as they look for their ninth straight victory against them, which carries over from almost five years ago.
The Raptors entering this game will look to come in with a clean slate, and forget about what had happened earlier this season when these two teams squared-off at the Rose Garden, in Portland, Ore. In a game that consisted of injuries, sloppy play, and an ejection, the Raptors got blown out by a score of 92-74, in what had been their “lowest point” of the season thus far. Since then however, the Raptors have been one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference, compiling a record of (7-3).
The Blazers on the other hand, are playing their second game of a back-to-back, after an impressive 105-100 victory last night against the New York Knicks at MSG, spoiling Amare Stoudemire’s return from injury. With having three starters play above 39 minutes, the Blazers bench will be a definite X-factor tonight. Although their bench has been their kryptonite all year, it’s key that the second unit produces, when, and if they get called upon.
Tonight’s matchup should definitely be an intriguing one, as both teams look to play meaningful basketball in their respective conferences come season’s end. The Blazers are playing the second game of a back-to-back and may have to turn to their second unit for some help in this one, which happens to be one of the league’s worst. The Raptors on the other hand, have been very productive on both ends of the floor as of late, and will look to continue their dominant play as well. Let’s just hope everyone’s mouth guard’s stay where they need to be, and that the Raptors play the game that they need to play.
Credit to “http://newshopper.sulekha.com” for the photo