Game Preview: Raptors @ Clippers

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

Tip-off: 10:30 P.M. ET

The Raptors are in Los Angeles to face the Clippers on a back-to-back, less than 24 hours after a wild finish in Sacramento that left the team on the losing end of a 102-99 decision. Things won’t get any easier against the Clippers.

Broadcast Info: TSN2/TSN1050

TALKING POINTS

Clippers cruising

While much has been made of the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers to start the season, the Clippers have quietly been racking up wins in Los Angeles. At 12-2, the Clippers own the best record in the league and are 9-1 over their last 10 games.

The Clippers lead the league in points per game differential with a +13.7 advantage over their opponents. They’re also second in the league in opponent points per game, giving up just 95.4 points per contest. The Raptors come to Los Angeles having given up 100+ points in their last seven games. Opponents are averaging 104.2 points against Toronto this season. Facing the Clippers on a back-to-back after a tough loss in Sacramento isn’t an ideal scenario for a team trying to flip the switch defensively, but it’s the situation they’ve got.

Carroll feeling comfortable

DeMarre Carroll had one of his best games of the season against the Kings. Playing 33 minutes, Carroll scored a season-high 17 points to go with four rebounds and two steals. He shot 6-for-12 from the floor and 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. In recent weeks, Carroll has rested in one of two games during back-to-backs, but his status for Monday’s game is not yet known. 

After his scoring flurry against the Kings, Carroll was asked about his night.

“I’m just finally getting my legs up underneath me,” he said. “Letting [the game] come to me. I’ve been getting in my work in every day before the game – trying to be the first person in and the last person out. It’s going to come, man. I’ve just still got room for improvement and I’ve still got to keep getting better. My teammates did a good job of finding me tonight.”

Stepping up the defence

A recurring theme with the Raptors over the last week has been defensive adjustments and improvements. Through wins and losses, it’s been the defence that Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Dwane Casey hav mentioned.

Trying to slow down the Clippers will be a challenge. Blake Griffin leads the team in scoring at 21.6 points per game, one of five players on the roster to average double figures. Chris Paul is as savvy as ever, averaging 17.9 points, 8.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 steals per contest. Lowry has said communication is the key to cleaning up defensive mistakes. Carroll thinks its as much a mental effort as it is a change in approach.

“I just think the biggest key, we just got to lock in collectively,” Carroll said. “We’re giving up too many easy shots and if we do [give up easy shots], we should make them score out from the outside. I feel like [the other teams] are getting too many easy layups and then we’re turning the ball over giving them an easy layup. We could fix a couple of things, we’re going to be okay, but it was a tough one tonight. But we got a back-to-back tomorrow.”