Game Preview: Raptors vs Magic

Holly MacKenzie -

The Orlando Magic are in Toronto to face the Raptors on Sunday evening. Toronto is looking to continue building off a strong defensive performance in a victory against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Magic are looking to get back on track after losing 10 of their previous 12 contests.

Tip-off: 6:00 P.M. ET

Broadcast Info: TSN4, TSN5 / TSN1050


Raptors hoping for repeat performance

In the previous meeting between these two teams, the Raptors had one of their most dominant wins of the season when they defeated the Magic 109-79 despite resting starters for the final quarter. Toronto earned its victory thanks to a defensive stand in the third quarter that saw the Raptors outscore the Magic 29-13 to take an 84-64 lead into the fourth. Things didn’t get any better for Orlando in the final quarter as the Raptors’ defence held the Magic to just 28 points in the second half.

DeMar DeRozan led the way for Toronto, scoring a game-high 31 points on 13-for-21 field goals in the victory, while Kyle Lowry added a 16-point, 10-assist double-double and Jonas Valanciunas added a 16-point, 13-rebound effort. The Magic were led by Evan Fournier’s 15 points while former Raptors player Bismack Biyombo added eight points and 12 rebounds in his first game against his former team.

Stepping up the defence

After snapping a give-game skid with a 102-86 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, the Raptors are hoping for more of the same against the Magic. Toronto had a solid defensive showing against Milwaukee, holding the Bucks to just 39 percent shooting in the game.

Through wins and losses, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has talked about the need for a full 48-,minute effort on the defensive end of the floor. Friday’s game wasn’t perfect, but it was a step up from how the team had been competing defensively, and he’s hoping to see more of it on Sunday. Prior to Friday’s game, Casey discussed how watching film in preparation for the Bucks led to watching how his team had moved the ball with purpose and speed in their previous meeting against Milwaukee. In the first quarter on Friday, Toronto had 10 assists on 13 made field goals and the offence was rolling.

“That’s what we’ve got to do,” Casey said. “Most important is we have to play with an edge, that spark, that swagger. We’ve kind of been moping, in second gear, and [on Friday] I thought we were zinging around and zipping around on both ends of the floor. That’s the way we have to play. We can’t go and just out-power somebody or go toe-to-toe with somebody, we have to play with that zip, the ball going side to side.

Raptors benefit from Patterson’s return

To be familiar with the Raptors is to know how important Patrick Patterson is to what the team is doing each night. After missing 10 of 12 games in January, Patterson has played in the previous three and the Toronto coaching staff is happy to have him back.

“He’s getting back,” Casey said. “He’s not there yet but he’s getting back.”

Patterson’s presence makes everything easier on both ends of the floor. After the victory against the Bucks, Kyle Lowry praised Patterson’s ability to space the floor on offence, while being able to guard multiple positions on defence. Patterson was credited with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot in Friday’s victory, but his impact is felt well beyond the boxscore.

“No question,” Casey said. “Stuff that doesn’t even show up on the stat sheet. He’s telling everybody what to do, he knows the plays as well as the coaching staff, he’s a glue guy. His spacing, he’s a ball-mover, the ball’s zipping around a lot because of him. He gives that to us.”