Toronto Raptors vs San Antonio Spurs: Predictions, Odds & Head-to-Head

How to Watch

Where: AT&T Center in San Antonio, TX

When: 8:00 PM EST, 3 January 2019

How (TV/Radio): TNT, Sportsnet One/Ontario| Sportsnet 590 The Fan

Toronto Raptors

Head Coach: Nick Nurse {All-Time 28-11 | TOR}

The Toronto Raptors gave up first place in the Eastern Conference over the holidays. After going 6-4 in their last ten matches, the Toronto Raptors allowed the Milwaukee Bucks to sneak into first place in the East by the finest of win percentage margins (0.003%).

The Toronto Raptors are coming off of an incredible performance by Kahwi Leonard against the Utah Jazz, posting a new career high in scoring. Throughout the game he was challenged by Utah’s strongest and quickest defenders, but he was either able to make the correct pass or react appropriately to get the basket.

No doubt Kawhi Leonard hopes to put on a show against his former team. In what seems like the first time in the history of the Spurs’ organization, there seems to be some bad blood between a player and the Spurs. While Derozan openly said this game was circled on his calendar, don’t be surprised to see Leonard put forth an effort to quiet his own critics.

San Antonio Spurs

Head Coach: Gregg Popovich {All-Time 1218-558 | SAS}

The San Antonio Spurs are just in the playoff race in the Western Conference with a record of 21-17. They are just a half game behind the Trail Blazers in seventh and two games ahead of the Kings in ninth, so the Spurs have some wiggle room should they struggle with consistency.

Over the past ten games, the San Antonio Spurs have been able to find their rhythm. With a recent record of 7-3, the Spurs will hope to continue their trend against the Toronto Raptors and their former star Kawhi Leonard.

The San Antonio Spurs have been able to acquire wins against some competitive teams in the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Boston Celtics. Against the Toronto Raptors though, the Spurs face the NBA’s premier crop of talent. Considering they also have former NBA Finals MVP and former Spur Kawhi Leonard, we are likely looking forward to a competitive and emotional matchup.

What’s At Stake?

An inter-conference matchup, the San Antonio Spurs and the Toronto Raptors will be meeting for just the 45th match all-time. It has been a considerably one-sided series, as the San Antonio Spurs lead all-time 32-12 over the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors will want to get back to maintaining a strong hold on the NBA and the Eastern Conference as they have slipped behind the Milwaukee Bucks and fallen to second in the East over the holidays. A win would bring their win percentage back above the Bucks and help to solidify their first place advantage.

A run against some weaker competition helped jump start the San Antonio Spurs’ efficiency, leading to their current 7-3 run. A win against the Raptors would put them just a half game behind the Portland Trail Blazers for seventh in the West.

Questions to answer

Who will win the battle on the boards?

Who will come out on top from the pivot position?

We are going to compare the Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

The Spurs (10th) and the Raptors (7th) are excellent rebounders

Both the San Antonio Spurs and the Toronto Raptors are strong rebounding teams. The Spurs sport the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, and Dante Cunningham, who are all energetic and long rebounders. The Toronto Raptors sport more traditional big men on the boards in Serge Ibaka and Greg Monroe, while the likes of Leonard and Siakam chip in their own fair share.

The San Antonio Spurs will want to do all they can to slow down the pace of the Toronto Raptors. The Spurs already do not invest a lot of effort on the offensive glass, with the fast break potential of the Raptors they may concentrate on the offensive glass even less.

The Raptors are a strong rebounding squad, but in individual matchups they have been taken advantage of in the past. With Valanciunas out they do not have their most dangerous threat on the glass. Don’t be surprised if the Raptors play bigger in this match to compete on the boards, as they usually want to play at a quicker tempo to most teams.

Serge Ibaka and LaMarcus Aldridge is a compelling matchup

The Spurs and the Raptors sport two of the NBA’s most versatile centres. Both starting their careers as power forwards, the NBA has changed to the point that they find themselves at the pivot position.

Serge Ibaka has made a concerted effort to take higher quality shots and his change in play has been rewarded. Averaging a career high in points (16.2 PPG), Serge Ibaka has proven vital to the Toronto Raptors’ success and effectiveness with their style of play.

LaMarcus Aldridge has struggled so far this season. His numbers are down across the board but he has made an effort to contribute in the hustle areas of the game. Ibaka is a player he generally has success against, but based on each players recent trajectory it’ll be interesting to see which player can lock in.

Toronto Raptors Roster Notes

G Kyle Lowry (back) was ruled out of the game against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. He will travel to San Antonio, but will be a game time decision.

C Jonas Valanciunas (thumb) will soon be re-evaluated after surgery on a dislocated thumb before a timetable for his return can be put in place.

San Antonio Spurs Roster Notes

G-F Rudy Gay (wrist) was ruled out on Monday and is questionable for the game against the Toronto Raptors.

G Dejounte Murray (knee) had successful surgery to repair a torn ACL, he is currently rehabilitating with the hope of return for the 19-20 season.

Head-to-Head: Kawhi Leonard vs Demar Derozan

Kawhi Leonard

26.7 PPG | 2.9 APG | 8.3 RPG | 1.7 SPG | 0.6 BPG | 2.0 TOV | .487 FG% | .369 3P%

Demar Derozan

22.9 PPG | 6.3 APG | 5.9 RPG | 1.0 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 2.4 TOV | .477 FG% | .175 3P%

Kawhi Leonard and Demar Derozan were swapped by the Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs this past summer. To say it was a mere business transaction would be an understatement. Leonard’s lack of ability to play for the Spurs despite their insistence soured their palettes and his value, while Demar Derozan took exception to President Masai Ujiri when he was informed he would not be traded, just days before he was. It will be a charged, emotional, and surely fun affair between two of the NBA’s best at the wing.

In the Toronto Raptors bid to stray away from an isolation-style offence, Kawhi Leonard has come into the Raptors and actually become an isolation-centric player. Assisted on only 33% of his field goals so far this season, Leonard has become an efficient one-on-one scorer. It is in large part due to the Raptors’ swell of injuries this season, but it is a talent that the Raptors will happily include in their playbook.

Demar Derozan has continued to be a stellar isolation scorer for the San Antonio Spurs. However, his focus on playmaking has been truly beneficial for the Spurs as his lack of outside shooting makes him a poor option in spot-up situations. Derozan acknowledged that this match would be “circled on his calendar” so look for a concentrated effort for Derozan to prove to his old club they made the wrong move.

Toronto Raptors at San Antonio Spurs Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the San Antonio Spurs favoured over the Toronto Raptors by 1.5, with an over/under of 105.