“I don’t remember what happened. I opened my eyes and I was in the locker room.”
The Toronto Raptors‘ fanbase has yet to recover from Wednesday’s crushing loss against the Sacramento Kings, in which Kyle Lowry was called for a non-existent offensive foul and subsequently ejected. For that night only, robbery was legal in the state of California. The league has not formally acknowledged the mistake in officiating, and it may go down as one of the worst calls in recent history. But, in spite of all the anger and complaints, the team must move on. The Raptors (26-23) hope to finish their five-game west coast road trip with a winning record tonight as they face the Los Angeles Clippers (34-18) at 10:30 PM EST.
Cage’s Keys to the Game:
Don’t dig yourself into a hole
The Raptors have a current habit of sluggish starts and valiant comebacks, only to fall short at the end. The Clippers play a high-octane style of basketball for all 48 minutes, and are second-best in the league at 106.2 PPG. At 99.3 PPG, Toronto needs to match their energy right from the beginning of the game, otherwise it will just be another night of playing the underdog. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan must start the game off strong and heighten the offensive pace to avoid an early blowout. Carry this momentum throughout the entire game, and you might just come out on top.
Protect the rim at all costs
“Lob City” is not an inviting place for opposing teams. Big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are guaranteed to attack the basket on as many plays as possible. With Chris Paul out from injury, these two will take up space in the paint and create their own scoring opportunities. It’s imperative that Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson hold their ground near the basket and defend the rim well.
Wednesday’s loss was extremely emotional. If anything, it should serve as motivation for the Raptors to come out strong and win tonight. Additionally, the last meeting between these teams saw a historic 51-point game from Terrence Ross, but a late game push by the Clippers spoiled the night. It’s up to Toronto to avenge their stolen game in Sacramento and take revenge on Los Angeles for last month’s loss.
X-Factor: Terrence Ross
Ross has been relatively quiet since his last game against the Clippers. However, he now knows he can score against this team, and although they will likely extend heavy defensive pressure, he’ll try to accomplish another feat of scoring. It’ll be hard for Los Angeles to break the confidence established by Ross in their last meeting. Look for the sophomore to push his offensive game.