Portland Trail Blazers (5-4) vs. Toronto Raptors (2-7)
The Portland Trail Blazers match up against the Toronto Raptors back home at Moda Center. The Trail Blazers will be looking to extend their win streak to three following blowout wins against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings. The Raptors will be looking to pick up a win after a very disappointing 2-7 start to the season.
Monday January 11 - 7 p.m. PT
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What To Watch For
- Back court battle. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have combined to average 54.3 points per game so far this year, tied for first in the league. Lillard will be looking to bounce back from poor shooting performance leading to a 17 point game two nights ago, his lowest since the first game of the season. The back court duo of Lillard and McCollum match up with the Raptors’ back court of Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry. The two Raptors guards are averaging 22.1 and 19.1 points per game respectively. These four guards make up four of the top five scorers in this contest, and which star duo plays better could be the difference maker in a game between two teams with playoff aspirations.
- Back to back. The Raptors are coming off a loss against the Warriors last night, and for a team struggling to get their season back on track after starting much worse than expected at 2-7, a back to back is the opposite of what they need. The Blazers will look to capitalize on the Raptors’ struggles and the fatigue that comes with a back to back with a win tonight. The Raptors have relied on scoring from multiple sources over the last few years, and could be looking for an unlikely hero to step up and give the stars some rest for the Raptors’ second game in as many nights.
- Three-point shooting. The Blazers and Raptors are 7th and 16th in the league in three point percentage respectively, but both have been red-hot from three over their last two games. Whether or not this three point barrage can be sustained into this third game for both teams could be the difference in this match up. Both teams will be looking to run shooters off of the three point line on defense, and the difference in this game could be which team is more effective in doing so.
What Others Are Saying
Jackson Racozky of Raptors HQ talks about the Raptors early struggles so far this season.
In the first quarter of their game against the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors appeared as if all their ailments had been cured, roaring out to a 32-23 lead. Of course they started strong, they took fourteen threes and made seven of them. Then, it shifted, the offense dried up entirely, and the defense could not contain the star power of Jayson Tatum and the Celtics. The game ended in a Celtics victory which was even less close than the score suggests.
This has been a common theme with this Raptors team — encouraging moments in fits and starts, but their efforts for the entirety of the game are incomplete. The root of this problem is their offensive approach and its penchant for unpredictability. To speak to the other side of the coin from lesson one, the Raptors as a whole have retained their overreliance on the three-pointer, chucking them up from deep like a 10-year-old trying to win the giant teddy bear at the arcade.
NBA.com’s Chris O’Leary mentioned the contributions by Raptors’ rookie Malachi Flynn in their recent game against the Kings.
After an impressive pair of preseason games, Flynn had Raptors’ Twitter buzzing over his potential. The six-foot-one, 185-pound San Diego State grad showed smarts with the ball in his hands, shot well and flaunted his court vision. Through limited action in his first three games, though, the 29th overall pick hadn’t seen the same results, even if something as simple as checking into a game launches his name into Twitter’s trending topics in Canada.
That changed on Friday. With Lowry out for personal reasons, Flynn learned in the morning that he’d have an increased role in the Raps’ date with the Kings. His line was somewhat modest — 12 points, five rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes — but it marked the first time he made a significant contribution in a regular-season game.