There's an old hoops adage that draws more controversy than Charles Barkley speaking on live television. "Teams compete and superstars win." Perhaps you're a believer in a one or two man flurry responsible for team success (aka win shares). Regardless, when the Warriors enter The Air Canada Centre, they'll seek to shut down the Raptors superstars while getting they're own off.
The W's haven't had two games in a row where a player failed to score more than 20 points. They'll seek to rebound off a tough loss to the Cav's, get Klay Thompson going early and continue to ride aggressive play from David Lee and Leandro Barbosa off the pine.
Factors the Warriors can certainly control.
There's a more balanced attack when all cylinders are firing, and lately a lack of production from Thompson has spelled trouble in a variety of areas. Look for head coach Steve Kerr to get Thompson going early with a variety of looks on the offensive end. Perhaps Thompson and Stephen Curry will combine for 52 again. An attractive feat for the arena where Thompson averages his fewest in points (12 ppg).
Don't give Lowry Confidence
Cut off the head of the snake and the body will wither away. Kyle Lowry is undoubtedly the head of a talented Raptors club. His energy is infectious and while he's barely six feet in stature, his presence on the court gives the Raptors an offensive edge that was missing until his arrival.
However, lately Lowry hasn't been half of the baller who dropped 10 buckets on the league's elite during his first All-Star appearance weeks ago. In his past 12 games, Lowry has averaged 13.4 points and 5.9 assists while shooting 36.3 percent from the field and 26.2 from behind the arc. Quite a drop off compared to his fist 45 games, Lowry put up 19.6 points per game and 7.4 assists.
He's been on the negative side in the plus/minus column in the Raptors last three contests, and the W's will seek to make it four.
Out of five catch-and-shoot attempts in the Raptors last contest against the Mavericks, Lowry hit one. Toronto's point man has managed to remain in double figures by creating off the dribble and getting to the free-throw line. It's imperative the W's show on screens and play smart gap defense.
Keep DeMar DeRozan off de-road.
An interesting piece on RaptorsHQ placed DeRozan's scoring inefficiencies under a microscope. This season alone, DeRozan best scoring percentages come from opportunities where he's cutting to the basket or in transition. He thrives on being constantly on the move, and if the Warriors can negate his athleticism they'll reap the end-game benefits.
So how do you get an athletic freak like DeRozan to slow down? First, the Warriors will have to limit the Raptors opportunities in transition, which requires sprinting back on defense. Whether a shot is hoisted from deep or in the paint, the W's will need to limit the Raptors opportunities at the rim. Dunks and easy layups create confidence, something Toronto is short on as of recent.
Warriors down the Raptors 101-93; balance restored.