Toronto Raptors vs Portland Trailblazers Predictions and Odds
The Toronto Raptors
Sitting at first in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors are looking to gain some momentum back after dropping games against the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. Still with a solid lead over the second and third place contenders, the Toronto Raptors can’t take a break on this road trip.
Tragic news for the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday when it was announced that head coach Nick Nurse left the team to attend to a family tragedy. He would return to coach the team against the Clippers, but is a misfortune that Nurse and the Raptors will surely carry. Should Nurse take time away from the team, the Raptors have experienced assistants in Nate Bjorkgen, Adrian Griffin, and Spanish National Team head coach Sergio Scariolo ready to step up.
The Portland Trailblazers
The Portland Trailblazers are sitting at a mediocre 15-11, good enough for seventh in the Western Conference. After a sweep in last year’s playoffs, the Trailblazers wanted to come into this season more focused but have had some struggles in recent games.
In their last ten matches, the Portland Trailblazers are 4-6 posting two separate three-game losing streaks in that span of time. The largest concern comes from the quality of competition they are playing against. Despite being a strong team, losing to the Nuggets, Bucks, and Warriors shows that the Blazers are not yet in the elite tier.
What’s at Stake?
In 43 regular season games, the Portland Trailblazers have absolutely owned the Toronto Raptors, leading the all time series 27-16.
The Toronto Raptors are currently sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference. Should they win this game, it would give them a handy three game cushion over the second place Bucks.
With a win, the Portland Trailblazers would move ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies to claim sixth in the Western Conference and a game and a half behind the Los Angeles Lakers for fifth.
Questions to Answer
Is Lowry fatigued already?
Why are the Blazers struggling to defend?
We are going to compare the Toronto Raptors and Portland Trailblazers in an attempt to answer these questions.
Lowry has Gone Cold
Kyle Lowry is still the NBA’s top point man, averaging 10 assists per game despite his team shooting a dreadful 34% from three. Lowry has found his success by feeding his teammates for easy looks on the inside and mixing it up with his own deep-range shooting.
That was, to start the season. Since he was rested against the Cleveland Cavaliers on December 1st, Lowry has shot an abysmal 13% from range. He has maintained his assist numbers, dishing 11, 4, 11, and 7 in his last four matches. However when Lowry isn’t on the Raptors lack a serious second option without Kawhi Leonard and has contributed greatly to their losses.
Portland is 19th in Defensive Rating
In fairness, the Portland Trailblazers are not a defence-centric team. Touting a starting lineup with the likes of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers big three won’t win you any defensive battles against the offensive talents of today’s NBA.
Their match against the Timberwolves may have shown some improvement, as it was the first in their last ten matches that they did not allow more than 30-points in a single quarter. While defence will never be their calling card, they do have long athletes in Aminu and Batum that can help matchup against some of the NBA’s more challenging foes.
Portland Trailblazers Roster Notes
G Anfernee Simons is day-to-day with an illness.
Toronto Raptors Roster Notes
F Kawhi Leonard is listed as questionable with a hip injury.
G Malachi Richardson is dressed but questionable to go with a toe injury.
G-F Norman Powell is unlikely to play through the Raptors four-game road trip.
Jonas Valanciunas Can Play Big
Jonas Valanciunas has been incredibly productive this season in limited minutes. He is currently averaging a career high in points per game while his minutes have steadily declined over the past three years. Posting an incredibly valuable 12.9 PPG and 7.3 RPG, Valanciunas may have a shot at Sixth Man of the Year.
Against Nurkic, Valanciunas will have a classic NBA matchup that he is unlikely to see in 90% of NBA games. A heavy, traditional big like Nurkic is surely Valanciunas’ preferred matchup to take advantage of from the outside and inside.
Jusuf Nurkic Finally Gets an Even Match
Jusuf Nurkic is having quite a season for himself, averaging 15 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game all in 26 minutes of play. While his offence is incredibly valuable, Nurkic has made it a point to challenge players at the rim and facilitate from the high post I order to benefit his sharpshooting teammates.
Despite both teams’ incredible wing play, look down low for the real matchup between the Raptors and the Blazers. Nurkic will have his hands full as he faces a similarly traditional center in Valanciunas and an athletic and rangy center in Serge Ibaka. His strength and awareness will surely benefit him, but his slow feet on defence may get him a quick hook if he can’t keep up.
Toronto Raptors at Portland Trailblazers Predictions and Odds
The odds will be updated as soon as they’re made available.