Game Preview: Raptors vs Nuggets
Denver Nuggets (15-7) @ Toronto Raptors (20-4)
When: Monday, December 3, 7:30 P.M. ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena
Leading into tonight’s game:
Injury Report: For the Raptors, Norman Powell (left shoulder subluxation) is out. The status of Kyle Lowry (sore back) is listed as questionable. For the Nuggets, Will Barton (right hip and core muscle surgery), Michael Porter Jr. (low back surgery), Isaiah Thomas (right hip surgery), Jarred Vanderbilt (right foot surgery) are all out.
20 Club: With a road win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, the Raptors became the first team in the league to reach 20 wins this season. At 20-4, the team also set a franchise record for the fewest games needed to reach the 20-win mark. No other team has more than 17 wins this season.
Eight straight: Saturday’s win was also Toronto’s eighth straight, extending the team’s longest winning streak this season. This is the longest winning streak since the franchise won a record 11 straight last season. The Raptors aren’t the only team entering Monday’s game on a roll, though. The Nuggets have won five straight, including a 113-112 thriller on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.
Leonard leading the way: With Kyle Lowry sidelined because of a sore back in Cleveland, Kawhi Leonard provided stability on both ends of the floor when the Raptors looked out of sorts without their starting point guard. Leonard scored a game-high 34 points on 11-for-21 field goals against the Cavaliers. He added nine rebounds, two assists, a steal and a blocked shot in 37 minutes. Most impressive, the Raptors were a +28 with Leonard on the floor. “He did what he does every night,” Danny Green said. “Defensively and offensively. Rebounding, blocking shots, offensively carrying the heavy load and making some plays. Scoring and finding guys.” Saturday’s game was Leonard’s second straight topping 30 points, and the sixth time he’s done it this season.
Awfully good: Pascal Siakam scored 15 points in Saturday’s victory, shooting 6-for-11 from the floor. With Kyle Lowry missing the game, Siakam’s assist totals went up and he led the team with five dimes to go with five rebounds as he was a +14 in the game. Siakam seems to add another bullet point to his breakout season with each passing game. “I’ll tell you what, he’s awfully good,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. Over Toronto’s eight-game winning streak, Siakam is a +110 and he is the only Raptors player to have a positive +/- over all eight victories.
Familiar faces: There are lots of connections between the Nuggets and Raptors, starting with Raptors President Masai Ujiri, who served as the Nuggets Vice President of Basketball Operations from 2010-13 before returning to Toronto. Raptors Assistant General Manager Dan Tolzman and Patrick Mutombo also worked with Ujiri in Denver, with Tolzman serving as a scouting coordinator and Mutombo an assistant coach. C.J. Miles and Nuggets forward Paul Millsap spent six seasons as teammates for the Utah Jazz, while Nuggets guard Jamal Murray hails from Kitchener.