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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Toronto Raptors Preview

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The Blazers look to pick up a win at home on a back-to-back.

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Portland Trail Blazers v Toronto Raptors - NBA Game Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (4-7) vs. Toronto Raptors (7-3)

November 13, 2019 - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out) Jusuf Nurkic (out), Pau Gasol (out), Rodney Hood (day-to-day)
Raptors injuries: OG Anunoby (out), Kyle Lowry (out), Serge Ibaka (out), Patrick McCaw (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Raptors HQ

The Portland Trail Blazers return home following a loss to the Sacramento Kings 107-99. Damian Lillard scored 27 points while CJ McCollum was close behind with 24, but their contributions combined weren’t enough to carry the Blazers to a win. Portland struggled in the third quarter, and though they tried to mount a comeback, it was too late.

The Toronto Raptors arrive in Portland after a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers 98-88. Pascal Siakam led the short-handed Raptors with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Piecemeal contributions weren’t enough to lift them over their former teammate Kawhi Leonard’s new squad on the second night of a back-to-back in Los Angeles. Their match-up against Portland is the fourth in a five-game road swing.

What to watch for

  • Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds. When the Blazers out-rebound the other team, they have a clearer path to victory. It doesn’t matter which end of the court they do it on, either. In the loss against Sacramento, Portland only managed 40 total rebounds. Compare that to the win against Atlanta, where they had 61.
  • Late-game energy. Portland needs to figure out something where energy is concerned. Clearly, it doesn’t help to have guys on the bench slide into starting spots, and it hurts to be as short-handed as the team is right now, but the pattern of letting games slip away in the third quarter has to be stopped. Given Toronto’s travel schedule, it is possible that there is an opportunity for Portland to take advantage of where energy is concerned.
  • Points in the paint. Hassan Whiteside’s early foul trouble against the Kings didn’t help the cause, but Portland only had 16 points in the paint versus Sacramento. Those are easy buckets that the team isn’t getting. Against the Raptors, they are in for a tough time: it’s likely Toronto will try to trap Damian Lillard, and Whiteside needs to make up the difference inside.

What they’re saying

Over at Raptors HQ, Josh Kern evaluates the performance of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who stepped up in place of OG Anunoby:

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played well Sunday night, and fully earned his second half minutes against the Lakers. Last night he was pressed into service early, when OG Anunoby left the game after getting poked in the eye.

And he played pretty well! Most importantly, he did a solid job hassling Kawhi Leonard on the defensive end; even when Kawhi got to his spots, RHJ was able to get a hand up and prevent any easy looks. He clearly knew the scheme Nick Nurse wanted to deploy against Leonard, and executed it extremely well.

Curtis Rush of Forbes explains how Pascal Siakam is making a difference for the Raptors since Kawhi Leonard left:

Much of the reason rests on the spectacular performance to date of Pascal Siakam, who looks like he’s on his way to becoming the superstar he was projected to become.

In some eyes, Siakam is even performing better than expected, with so much pressure on him to make up for the loss of Leonard to free agency.

The Toronto Globe and Mail’s Geoffrey York examined how Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri is promoting basketball in Africa:

If they take those steps, he says, Africa could experience a sports boom that would galvanize its economies. A new African basketball league, scheduled to begin in March with the NBA’s support, is just the latest in a renaissance that he envisions as someday including new soccer leagues, too.

“Sports is the next big thing in Africa, and I think investors here need to pay close attention to sports,” Mr. Ujiri told an African investment conference in Johannesburg in Monday.