Game Preview: Raptors vs Suns
Phoenix Suns (11-34) @ Toronto Raptors (33-13)
When: Thursday, January 17th, 7:30 P.M. ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena
Leading into tonight’s game:
- Injury Report: For the Raptors, the injury report is to be determined. For the Suns, Jamal Crawford is listed as questionable with a sore left knee.
- Back-to-back: Thursday’s matchup against the Suns is a back-to-back for the Raptors, who dropped a 117-108 decision in Boston against the Celtics on Wednesday. It is also the first game in a three-game homestand, with the Raptors hosting the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, and the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. Toronto is 7-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season, with the lone loss coming in a road game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Dec. 22.
- Recent history: This is the second meeting between the Raptors and Suns this season. Toronto won the first game in Phoenix 107-98, behind a 19-point effort from Kawhi Leonard, 16 points from Jonas Valanciunas and an 11-point, 12-assist double-double from Kyle Lowry. Though the game was close throughout, Toronto used a 14-2 run in the fourth quarter to take control and get the win. The Suns were led by rookie Deandre Ayton’s (and first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft) 17 points and 18 rebounds in the loss. The Suns enter Thursday's game following a 131-97 loss in Indiana to the Pacers. Phoenix guard Devin Booker is averaging 24.3 points and 6.9 assists per game to lead the Suns. After missing three games with back spasms, Booker returned to the floor against Indiana, finishing with eight points, five rebounds and five assists.
- Bouncing back: The Raptors are looking to bounce back against the Suns, after falling to the Celtics on Wednesday despite a strong start and six-point lead after the opening quarter. Toronto gave up 50 percent shooting to the Celtics in the loss, including 47 percent from beyond the three-point line where the Celtics finished 14-of-30 compared to just 7-of-29 (24 percent) for the Raptors. The Celtics had 32 assists in the game, led by Kyrie Irving's 18, while the Raptors had just 20 as a team. Serge Ibaka finished with a 22-point, 10-rebound double-double in the loss.
- Streak continues: Kawhi Leonard followed up a 41-point performance against the Wizards on Sunday with a 33-point effort in Wednesday’s loss in Boston. This extended his own career-best streak of consecutive games scoring at least 20 points to 20 games. Vince Carter holds the franchise record with 23 straight games topping 20 points, but Leonard’s current streak of 20 games is the longest in the NBA this season. Leonard was 10-for-19 from the floor and 11-for-11 from the free throw line while adding four rebounds, two assists and four steals.
- Bench mob: Toronto’s reserves combined to score just 22 points in Boston. In comparison, Celtics reserves contributed 39 points in their 117-108 victory. On the positive side, it was just two games ago that Toronto's bench contributed 60 points in a home win against the Brooklyn Nets. Norman Powell and Greg Monroe each scored 11 points on Wednesday, and were the only Toronto reserves with points on the board. Powell is averaging 11.6 points over his last five games.