Game Preview: Raptors at Thunder

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

Toronto Raptors (23-9) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (19-15)

When: Wednesday, December 27, 8 P.M. ET

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena

Broadcast info: SN1, SN590

Last meeting: 

In Toronto’s last meeting against the Thunder, the Raptors fell 123-102 on the Air Canada Centre floor. The team was without Kyle Lowry because of a wrist injury, and gave up a triple-double to last season’s MVP Russell Westbrook. Oklahoma City led in the first half, but stretched their lead in the third, outscoring Toronto 39-22 in the quarter. Westbrook led all scorers with 24 points to go with 16 assists and 10 rebounds. Victor Oladipo, now with the Indiana Pacers, added 23 points. For Toronto, DeMar DeRozan had 22 points in the loss.

Leading into tonight’s game: 

Injury report: For the Raptors, Lucas Nogueira (right calf injury) is questionable. The Thunder do not have any players listed on their injury report.

POTW: DeMar DeRozan heads to Oklahoma City as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week. The NBA announced DeRozan had received the honour — for the seventh time in his career — for games played Dec. 18-24 where he averaged 34.0 points, 4.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds and led the Raptors to a 3-0 record. 

New-look Thunder: This year’s Thunder team looks a lot different than the one that beat the Raptors a year ago. Headlining the changes are new additions Carmelo Anthony and Paul George taking the place of Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott. Former Raptors super sixth man Patrick Patterson also signed with Oklahoma City over the offseason.

Extra assists:

Stealing the Thunder: The Raptors will need to take care of the ball on Wednesday. Paul George is the NBA’s leader in steals, averaging 2.53 per game. Russell Westbrook is second in the league, averaging 2.09 per game. Though Toronto only recorded 10 turnovers in Tuesday’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks, it was a loss filled with mistakes and missed shots. The Raptors hope to get back on track in Oklahoma City, before returning to the ACC to take on the Atlanta Hawks.

Hot streak: Toronto enters Wednesday’s match up with the Thunder having won 10 of 12 games in December. Only the Golden State Warriors (11-1 in December) have been better. Directly after the Warriors and Raptors is the Thunder with an 11-3 record this month. 

Best in the West: Reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook joined DeMar DeRozan in receiving Player of the Week honours (Westbrook, for the Western Conference), earning the nod for the 16th time in his career. In games played Dec. 18-24, the Thunder went 4-0 and posted a 100.5 defensive rating with Westbrook on the floor. On the season, Westbrook is averaging 23.9 points, 9.9 assists and 9.4 rebounds.