Game Preview: Raptors vs Spurs
GAME DAY PREVIEW
Toronto Raptors (28-11) @ San Antonio Spurs (21-17)
When: Thursday, January 3rd, 8 P.M. ET
Where: AT&T Center
Leading into tonight’s game:
- Injury Report: For the Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas is out with a dislocated left thumb. Kyle Lowry (lower back pain) is listed as doubtful. For the Spurs, the injury list is to be determined.
- Familiar faces: Thursday’s game against the Spurs will mark the return of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to San Antonio for the first time since they were traded to the Raptors this summer. It will also be the first time former Raptors DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl face the team that drafted them. Leonard won a championship with the Spurs in 2014, where he was also named Finals MVP. DeRozan left Toronto as the franchise leader in points, field goals made, free throws made, games played and victories.
- Recent history: This is the first of two meetings between these teams this season. The Raptors haven’t won in San Antonio since the 2007-08 season, but they are 11-4 against the Western Conference this season. The second game in this series will take place at Scotiabank Arena on Friday, Feb. 22. San Antonio enters Thursday game having won seven of their last 10 games, with a 120-111 victory over the Boston Celtics in their most recent game.
- Career-high Kawhi: Kawhi Leonard returns to San Antonio fresh off a career-high scoring performance against the Utah Jazz. Leonard scored 45 points in Toronto’s 122-116 victory against Utah, shooting 16-for-22 from the floor and 13-for-17 from the free-throw line. In the third quarter alone, he scored 19 points on a perfect 7-for-7 field goals. The 45-point performance bumped Leonard to 14 straight games scoring over 20 points which is also the longest stretch of his career. During this stretch (Nov. 29 - Jan. 1) Leonard is averaging 30.8 points on 52 percent shooting.
- Spicy P, too: Pascal Siakam set yet another career high, scoring 28 points against the Jazz on 9-for-15 field goals, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and a perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. It was also his second consecutive double-double, as he also contributed 10 rebounds. Siakam currently ranks 12th in the league with a 57.7 percent shooting average and has scored at least 20 points on 10 occasions this season. "Pascal is now being counted on as one of those guys that needs to be a consistent performer and he’s pretty young to be counted on as a consistent performer but he’s learning," Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. "He’s had a little bit of up and downs here lately, but he bounced back in the last game tremendously well and we’ll look for him to continue to do that, find a way to have a good game."
- Spark plug: No one is happier that Norman Powell is back on the basketball court following a 21-game layoff with a left shoulder subluxation than Powell himself. The reserve guard has provided a much-needed energy boost off the bench as Toronto deals with injury woes as of late. Powell has played well on both ends of the floor and has scored in double figures in three of his last five games, including a reserve-high 14 points in Tuesday’s victory over the Jazz where he shot 6-for-11 from the floor and 2-for-4 from beyond the three-point line. "He looks great," Nick Nurse said. "He really looks great. He looks fast, athletic and assertive.