While the #1 team in the West facing the #2 team in the East is always going to be a marquee matchup, both Stephen Curry and Kyle Lowry are likely to miss this game for their respective teams - robbing the game of some of it’s entertainment value, but none of it’s importance.
Just for some
pre-excuses perspective, the Warriors will be playing their third game in four days (and fifth game in eight) less than 24 hours after finishing off the Bucks. All while losing three hours due to the time zone changes. Oh, and the Raptors are the second-best team in the East right now...
Zaza Pachulia was right - nothing easy!
Who: Warriors at Raptors
When: Saturday, January 13; 4:30 p.m.
Where: Air Canada Centre
Radio: 95.7 The Game
Blog Buddy: Raptors HQ
Well, I don’t know what to put here. We just have questions at this point.
Warriors: Steph Curry (ankle), Omri Casspi (back) are both questionable. But given that this is a back-to-back game on an intense road trip, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Kerr rest one of the veterans like Shaun Livingston or Andre Iguodala. Of course, that would leave us with even less primary ball handlers...so who knows!
Raptors: Kyle Lowry took a nasty fall and is listed as a game time decision. My guess is he won’t play just based off how bad the crash looked.
Is this the year the Raptors are good enough?
After languishing in the doldrums of mid-round playoff exits, this could very well be the year that the Raptors push all the way into the finals. Fueled by a career year from Demar Derozan, our Canadian neighbors are looking good. Damn good. Good enough, in fact, to completely annihilate the Cleveland Cavaliers by 34 points just a couple days ago.
They have revolutionized their play, if not their personnel. The Raptors are playing significantly faster this year, and almost like when coach Steve Kerr took over the Warriors offense, their passing and assists have dramatically blown up in a single season.
They’re 11th in the league in assists, up from 30th last year. They’re fourth in three-point attempts and eighth in makes, up from 22nd and 21st, respectively. They rank 10th in pace, up from 22nd. They’ve scored at least 125 points eight times – including a team (regulation) record 133 in Thursday’s upset win over Cleveland – something that they did just seven times in the previous four seasons combined.
Now they are going to test their mettle against the Warriors, one of the NBA’s best road teams. After a nice, impressive start to their season, these Raptors appear to be ready. They’ve got a great bench, some young talent, and their stars are playing well - this should be a great game.
We’re down to just two teams in top-10 of offensive rating and defensive rating: Warriors (1, 3) and Raptors (3, 4)— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) January 12, 2018
Warriors: Five games in five cities over nine days
The Warriors aren’t fools. The Raptors are almost perfectly built to beat them with their long-limbed defenders, penchant for swiping passes (#5 in the NBA), and love of the long ball.
As much as we may want to call this game a trap game ahead of the big Monday showdown against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Warriors are going to be coming into this one with eyes wide open.
But the health of Steph Curry’s surgically-repaired right ankle is where most attention is drawn.
The team has been very tight-lipped about when exactly Curry will return to the court - could be this game, or Monday against the Cavs...or even later.
In his absence, the Warriors will look to Shaun Livingston to primarily run the point but are still hoping to get something from Patrick McCaw that allows him to soak up these minutes. Regardless of who gets the bulk of these minutes, it is imperative that the Warriors carefully watch their turnovers and play focused defense against a pass-happy Raptors squad.
Prediction: Warriors 121 - Raptors 118