There will be no lack of star power heading into Sunday’s matinee when the Toronto Raptors who are now 12-21 face the league leading Oklahoma City Thunder (25-7). The Raptors are looking to pick up the pieces after falling apart against the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. This afternoon they face a Thunder team who are currently second in the league in points averaged per game with 105.6 and first in 3-point percentage at 48%.
Early in the season when these two ball clubs met, the Thunder cruised to a 20-point victory at home. However, they are team with the least amount of road games played this season when they come into the Air Canada Centre to face the Raptors. The Raptors have the best record in the Eastern Conference over the last ten games. They also boast a winning home record going 8-5 at the ACC. After losing a game they could’ve potentially won, the Raptors have had time to practice and figure out what went wrong in their most recent defeat.
The Raptors defence will be tested early and often by two of the NBA’s top 10 leading scorers. Russell Westbrook (21.8ppg) is sitting sixth and Kevin Durant (28.3ppg) is fourth, so expect to see some earlier subs. This will be a true test to see whether this newfound concept of team defence has resonated with this Toronto team.
Speaking of defence, the Thunder lead the league in blocks per game at (7.5) so it’s not a bad idea to test the referees early and set the tempo from the opening minutes of the game.
The Raptors are going to get their fair share of shots up in a game like this. The likes of DeMar DeRozan and Alan Anderson will attempt to trade buckets with proven scorers like Westbrook, Durant and Kevin Martin however they can’t shy away from attacking the rim. Serge “I-blocka”, Kendrick Perkins and even Hasheem Thabeet are shot blocking big men, and shot blockers like to gamble.
The Raptors have a tendency to jump on their opponent during these Sunday afternoon games. There is doubt that this game will be an exciting one, since Kevin Durant is making his lone visit up North, so anticipate a buzzing crowd. The Toronto Raptors will have to be communicating in order to help on rotations so expect to see an inspired squad defending their home court. Watch out for a feisty matchup between Kyle Lowry and Westbrook, this one should be good.
Photo Cred: (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)