The Toronto Raptors (22-20), maintaining their stance as the Atlantic Division Leader and once again reaching the third seed in the Eastern Conference below the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat, look to carry on their 2 game win streak as they face the Los Angeles Clippers (30-15) on Saturday night at 7 P.M. EST at the Air Canada Centre. Chris Paul is not expected to play yet again.
Raptors Cage Keys to the Game:
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan:
In the past couple games, these two have been a lethal one-two punch. DeMar DeRozan will be receiving a lot of attention as he is coming off of a a 34 point game (and a career-high 40 point game before that). Kyle Lowry, who has not been receiving as much appraisal as DD, has consistenly been phenomenal since the trade rumor to the New York Knicks. The lack of media attention he receives makes his high level performance all the more captivating; he has recently been gaining the trust of more and more Toronto Raptors fans. Lowry, also coming off of a monster game as he obtained his 4th Triple-Double against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, is expected to put on a stellar performance alongside of Derozan as they go against
Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas:
The twin towers have been relatively quite as of late (not to mention, Dwayne Casey has been limiting their minutes). Against a team like the Clippers who have two of the more dominant big men in the league, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, it is crucial for them to step up their game both offensively and defensively. DeAndre Jordan will especially pose the biggest threat due to his nimbleness underneath the basket and let us not forget that he has the highest FG% in the league. His game takes place mostly in the paint, so it is absolutely critical to keep him away from the basket as much as possible.
X-Factor: Amir Johnson
Playing against Lob City, it will be important to have a very strong defensive presence against Jordan and Griffin as they are known to create havoc in the paint. Amir Johnson, who is known for both his offence and defense, is looking to give the team a boost as his role tonight will be critical alongside with Jonas Valanciunas. This also means that Kyle Lowry will need to play a significant role as well as a distributor. If the offence doesn’t come, Amir is going to need to exert his dominance defensively at the very least.
Final Point Of Emphasis
Despite DeRozan’s stellar performances, it is important to maintain focus and not let the past get to his head. DeRozan’s tendency to take low percentage jump shots has hurt the team in the past in close games, although he has been very fortunate that a lot of his shots have been dropping at a respectable percentage. With this in mind, keeping the team’s overall FG% above 50%, moving the ball around and being smart about their shot selections will be critical as grabbing boards will prove to be a challenge in tonight’s game against the Clippers.