The Toronto Raptors (48-23) will try to bounce back when they face the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Centre.
The Toronto Raptors took a tough loss to the Houston Rockets, which they will have to forget it and move on as they look to avoid their first three game losing streak in four months. Their opponents are having problems of their own. The New Orleans Pelicans have been injury riddled all season and will again be missing star player, Anthony Davis who is out for the season.
The Pelicans will also be without Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon. If the Raptors are able to bounce back with a win, it will be their 49th of the season and tie the franchise record for most wins, which was achieved last season. The recent losses mean the Raptors have fallen two and a half games behind the number one seeded Cavaliers, so there is ground to be made up.
Probable starting line ups, Toronto: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Luis Scola, Norman Powell and Jonas Valanciunas. New Orleans: Jrue Holiday, Alonzo Gee, Dante Cunningham, Alxis Ajinca and Omer Asik.
Cage’s keys to the game
This word was mentioned a lot in the wake of the Raptors close loss to Houston and could prove important in tonight’s game. With the Raptors being strong favourites to win this one, they don’t want to become their own worst enemy. While the ejections in last nights game were harsh, the best thing the Raptors can do is focus on themselves and take care of the ball.
On the second night of a back to back, the bench will prove important. Due to the injury problems in New Orleans, their bench will seem stretched so the ability to compound the advantage with this department in an area the Raptors have been strong in this season. Resting down the stretch towards the play-off’s also means that the bench will play an important part at this stage of the season.
The Raptors gave up 112 points to Houston and late on could not get what might have been a game changing stop. Defence has been paramount this season and tonight going back to that form hopefully sets a tone further down the road, especially come play off’s. New Orleans are not at full strength so the Raptors have a good chance to get back in form.
Raptors X-Factor- DeMar DeRozan
At this stage of the season there is merit to resting the likes of DeRozan and Lowry especially in these sort of games, but DeRozan is a little out of form having shot 38.8% over his last five games. A critical bounce back for the team as a whole and their leader tonight might prove more important than first thought..