Spurs vs. Raptors. The last time these two played it came down to the last second, with Marco Belinelli and DeMar DeRozan delivering the winning shots for the Spurs, even though Kyle Lowry’s penchant for clutch 3-pointers showed itself again. Another instalment of the Raptors losing to DeRozan’s team despite being much better than them. This time though, the Raptors should recognize the importance of the second seed that is sitting in the palm of their (finally healthy) hands, and bring their all vs. the Spurs.
Last time I made note of the Raptors obvious and oft-talked about proclivity for allowing teams to shoot 3-pointers. That, juxtaposed with the Spurs apparent hatred for the shot, meant that something had to give. Well, it did. But, not in the way that I thought it might’ve, as the Spurs only hit 7 threes and attempted a smidge over their season average. They were instead sustained by a steady flow of shots at the rim, and an earnest attempt to draw fouls that was rewarded pretty often. They shot nearly 3 times as many free throws as the Raptors (30-to-11 FTA) to keep pace the best they could (down by 18 in the third) before unleashing a 36-22 fourth quarter that featured nearly half of their threes and over 60-percent shooting from the floor.
The Raptors defense failed them down the stretch. Their offense also hit one of those dry spells that it goes through sometimes. It was a deeply disappointing end to a game that profiled as pretty fun for the duration. Now the Raptors have to make sure that they handle their business against a team that has won 3 of their last 4, and is definitely going to get back to the free throw line.
Over his last 17 games, DeRozan is averaging a robust (nearly) 26-6-6 on over 60-percent shooting. First of all, those numbers are incredible, and congrats to DeRozan on the insane streak he’s on. Secondly, the Spurs are 9-8 in those 17 games (+.500 is good for them). The onus is on the Raptors to slow down penetration they allow to players like DeRozan, Dejounte Murray, and Lonnie Walker IV.
Since the loss to the Spurs, the Raptors have gotten Marc Gasol back in the lineup, Norman Powell has continued his nuclear level of play, and the offense has rounded into unbelievable form as they’ve ripped off a 6-game win streak. They’re shooting 43-percent from downtown in the last 6, 51-percent from the field… you get it, they’re on fire. And the Spurs don’t profile as the defensive juggernauts to stop them. The Raptors should have their way on the offensive end, and it’s important that they don’t bend to the will of the Spurs and slow down the pace of the game. The Raptors have more talent, they run a terrific system, and they need to adhere to that. Outside of a disastrous shooting night, there shouldn’t be much the Spurs can do to beat these Raptors.
Tipoff: 410pm EST | TV: Sportsnet One | Radio: TSN1050
PG: Kyle Lowry, Terence Davis II, Paul Watson
SG: Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Patrick McCaw
SF: OG Anunoby, Malcolm Miller, Stanley Johnson
PF: Pascal Siakam, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Oshae Brissett
C: Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Chris Boucher
PG: Dejounte Murray, Patty Mills
SG: Bryn Forbes, Lonnie Walker IV, Derrick White, Marco Belinelli
SF: DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Keldon Johnson
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMarre Carroll
C: Trey Lyles, Jakob Poeltl, Chimezie Metu
Have a blessed day.