Game Preview: Raptors vs Trailblazers
Toronto Raptors (23-7) @ Portland Trail Blazers (15-13)
When: Friday, December 14th, 10 P.M. ET
Where: Moda Center
Leading into tonight’s game:
Injury Report: For the Raptors, Norman Powell is out with a left shoulder subluxation. Jonas Valanciunas left Wednesday’s game against the Golden State Warriors in the second quarter with a dislocated left thumb. The team announced on Thursday that Valanciunas underwent surgery on his thumb and is expected to be in a cast for four weeks. Kawhi Leonard has missed the last two games with a bruised right hip and is listed as questionable for Friday’s game. For the Blazers, the injury report is to be decided.
Back-to-back: Thanks to a 113-93 victory against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, the Toronto Raptors have gone 2-0 to start this four-game trip west. The Raptors moved to 6-0 on the second night of back-to-backs with the win, taking down the Warriors one day after defeating the Clippers 123-99 in Los Angeles. The Raptors shot 52 percent from the floor and 48 percent from beyond the arc in L.A. Toronto had a balanced scoring effort in both games to help make up for Kawhi Leonard's absence offensively, with six players in double figures against the Clippers and five reaching double figures against the Warriors.
Recent history: The Raptors have won six straight games against the Blazers over the last three seasons. While Toronto enters Friday’s game on a two-game winning streak, the Blazers have dropped two straight, most recently falling 92-83 to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, despite a season-high tying 40-point effort from guard C.J. McCollum.
Streak snapped: Wednesday’s victory against the Warriors snapped Toronto’s 13-game losing streak at Oracle Arena. It also marked the first time the Raptors have swept the season series against a defending NBA champion and it was the first season sweep against the Warriors since the 2001-02 season. The victory helped Toronto match its best start in franchise history through 30 games at 23-7, originally set during the 2014-15 season.
100 club: Kyle Lowry recorded his 100th double-double in a Raptors uniform on Wednesday. Lowry posted a team-high in points (23) and a game-high in assists (12) against the Warriors, becoming the fourth player in franchise history to record at least 100 double-doubles in a Raptors uniform. He shot 9-for-18 from the floor and was a team-best +23 in the victory. He is among good company in the 100 double-doubles club, joining Chris Bosh, Jonas Valanciunas and Antonio Davis. Lowry is leading the league in assists at 10.0 per game and leads the Raptors with 12 double-doubles this season.
Starting strong: With Kawhi Leonard sitting because of a bruised hip, point guard Fred VanVleet slid into the starting five against the Clippers. He responded to the opportunity by recording a career-high 14 assists in L.A. VanVleet earned his second consecutive start against the Warriors, and came through again. This time he scored 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting, making 2-of-3 three-pointers to go with three rebounds, two assists and three steals. The Raptors backcourt of Lowry and VanVleet have combined to average 29.5 points and 17.5 assists in the first two games of this road trip.