Game Preview: Nuggets and Raptors Square Off
TORONTO, Ont. – The Denver Nuggets make their second stop of the season’s longest road trip tonight to take on the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors. The Nuggets are also in first place, taking over the top spot in the Western Conference via tie-breaker after the Los Angeles Clippers lost last night.
The Nuggets come in riding a five-game win streak, with three of those wins coming against division opponents. The Nuggets last played on Friday night, winning a thriller over the Trail Blazers in Portland, 113-112. Denver welcomed back Gary Harris in that game after he had missed the previous two wins with an injury. Harris led the Nuggets with 27 points in the contest, just one shy of his season-high.
The Raptors currently hold the best record in the NBA at 20-4 and have won eight games in a row. The Raptors most recently beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, winning 106-95 on the road.
Here is what to watch for tonight:
The Nuggets defense vs. the Raptors offense: The Nuggets have been one of the top defensive teams in the league this season with the third best defensive rating at 103.8, as well as allowing the second fewest points per game at 102.7. The Nuggets have also been forcing opponents to shoot just 31.2% from three point range this season.
Tonight’s game will feature one of the tougher challenges for the Nuggets’ defense this season as the Raptors have one of the league’s top offenses. The Raptors are fourth in the league in points per game at 117.1 and have the second best offensive rating at 114.6. The Raptors are led by the one-two punch of Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard. Leonard is averaging 25.5 points per game this season, a number that sets him at ninth best in the league. Lowry is averaging a league-leading 10.2 assists per game, which is 1.5 assists more than the next closest player. However, Lowry missed Toronto’s win on Saturday with a back injury.
Mixing matchups: The Raptors have a roster full of versatile defenders and can throw several different lineups at the Nuggets. Leonard is one of the elite defenders in the league and won multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards during his time with the San Antonio Spurs. On the other hand, the Nuggets also have many defenders who can guard multiple positions. Keep an eye on who the Raptors throw at Nikola Jokić, whether that’s Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas or brief stints with someone else.
Tonight’s game will tip at 5:30 pm MT and will be on Altitude TV and the AltitudeNOW app. Fans can listen on Altitude Radio, 92.5 FM.