The Toronto Raptors will take action against another West fringe playoff team tonight after beating the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers are in town in what should be an interesting game. The Blazers (33-29) have shocked many with their relatively strong season after losing LaMarcus Aldridge in the offseason. It’s also the return of Ed Davis.
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are both coming off fantastic performances against the Jazz. They will need to keep that going against what has emerged as an elite backcourt in Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Cage’s Keys to the Game
Limit the perimeter
Portland is an elite three point shooting team across the board. The Raptors will need to be in a tight man to man tonight, and be weary of pick and pops. Lillard and McCollum particularly like letting it fly from deep – limiting them from deep takes away a lot from this team.
Control the pace
While it may not seem like it based on the past handful of games, the Raptors are a defensive minded team. The Trail Blazers are not. Thus, the Raptors need to focus on playing at a slower pace and beating them by doing what they do best. There is no need for this to turn into a shootout.
Let’s face it, Portland fans. Your frontcourt is pretty weak – on both ends. Jonas Valanciunas could end up having a field day in this one. Last time out he had 14 points and 11 rebounds in just 25 minutes. As long as he’s out of foul trouble, him, Luis Scola, and Bismack Biyombo can feast.
X-Factor: Kyle Lowry
Was there really a doubt? This is going to be a fun battle with two elite point guards going head to head. Lowry is going to have to exert a lot of energy defensively to keep the speedy Lillard in check. Easier said than done. Let’s see what happens.