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Portland Trail Blazers at Toronto Raptors Preview

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Portland travels to the Great White North to take on the defending NBA champions.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (15-22) at Toronto Raptors (24-12)

January 7, 2020 - 4:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Skal Labissiere (out), CJ McCollum (questionable)
Raptors injuries: Pascal Siakam (out), Marc Gasol (out), Norman Powell (out), Dewan Hernandez (out), Matt Thomas (game-time decision), Fred VanVleet (game-time decision)
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 hope to put a stop to their road woes by traveling out of the country to face the defending NBA champions in Toronto.

The squad from the Rose City is just 3-9 on the road after a rough 122-111 loss in Miami to the Heat. Hassan Whiteside had a strong game against his former squad with 21 points and 18 rebounds, but the Blazers were outmatched by the guard combo of Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn.

For the Raptors, they took care of business against the Brooklyn Nets last time out 121-102. Fred VanVleet led the way with 29 points, but the injury-depleted Toronto squad saw him suffer a mild hamstring injury. He is a game-time decision against Portland.

What to watch for

  • Don’t Let Injuries Fool You. While the Trail Blazers have a case to be the second most banged up team in the league, the Raptors are no slouch in the medical department. They are without their leading scorer in Pascal Siakam, as well as two of their top three rebounders. If VanVleet doesn’t play, they will be without three of their five best players. The Trail Blazers have had a nasty habit of playing down to battered competition. Now is not the time to take the foot off the pedal, especially since the car has stalled as of late.
  • Find the Three. Portland’s three-point shooting has been abysmal as of late. While the shooters rallied somewhat in the loss to the Heat, Portland was just 4-of-18 in the first half from three, shot 6-of-25 in the win over the Washington Wizards, and 10-of-32 in the loss to the New York Knicks. he bench unit especially has been off from deep. With their interior scoring aside from Whiteside in tatters, the Blazers need the distance shot to fall.
  • Break the Defense. Toronto has survived this season so far despite the injuries and the departure of all-world player Kawhi Leonard by being strong on defense. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Patrick McCaw, Serge Ibaka, and OG Anunoby are all plus defenders. Finding a way to break through will be key.

What they’re saying

Doug Smith of the Toronto Star speaks highly of Raptors two-way prospect Oshae Brissett:

It is a lot to ask of some players who are learning on the fly, and others who are assuming roles they are not used to and perhaps not suited for. But when it works it’s a tremendous boost in difficult times, and it’s been working wonderfully of late with Oshae Brissett.

Jay Rosales of Raptors HQ gave his take on the Raptors’ upcoming slate of games:

With the schedule getting more top-heavy, the rash of injuries that befell the Raptors was supposed to be the beginning of the end. Thankfully, Toronto has Nick Nurse — who can coach me, two random rec league guys, Kyle Lowry, and Fred VanVleet to a win over the Cavaliers — who can maximize whatever talent is in front of him.