The surging Toronto Raptors are set to take on the Denver Nuggets in the mile-high city tonight at 9PM EST. With DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Patterson and Amir Johnson all listed as game-time decisions, Toronto (24-21) will look for production from its key reserves. The team looks to extend its two game win streak following a dominant victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night. On the opposing side, Denver (22-22) hopes to continue its streak of nine straight victories against the Raptors at the Pepsi Center. In the absence of Nate Robinson and possibly Ty Lawson, the Nuggets will undoubtedly come out of the gates firing.
Raptors Cage Keys to the Game:
Build a lead early
The Raptors have performed considerably well in first quarters this season. Their performance early on presents an essential key to their success; these points may decide the outcome in a close late game situation. The Nuggets play as a cohesive unit, so Toronto will need communication on both ends of the floor to establish a lead.
Begin the game with defence
With or without their strongest players, it is safe to say that both sides will push their offence early. The key here for Toronto is to limit their opponent’s scoring opportunities,especially in transition. Wilson Chandler will likely take on scoring responsibilities should Lawson sit out. Terrence Ross is at a physical disadvantage in this matchup, so he must stay alert and guard the perimeter well- this should allow him to slow down the threat posed by Chandler.
Third-year power forward Kenneth Faried will be the focal point on many offensive plays. It’s up to Jonas Valanciunas, Chuck Hayes and Tyler Hansbrough to contain the “Manimal.” Responsively, Valanciunas will also be heavily involved in post-ups and pick and roll plays. He will see defensive pressure the entire night.
X-Factor: Kyle Lowry
If his recent play wasn’t inspired enough, yesterday’s controversial exclusion of Lowry from the Eastern Conference All Star reserves will undoubtedly add fuel to his performance. Expect continued production from Toronto’s starting point guard.