Gameday: Raptors @ Blazers, November 15

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Photo via The Canadian Press

It’s always meaningful to play a former Raptor, and it’s especially meaningful when it’s a beloved member of the title team. So Toronto will travel to Portland tonight to take on the Trail Blazers, and there will be much love shared between the Raptors and Norm Powell. He deserves a real reception when he returns to Toronto, but for now he’ll have to settle for some love from his former teammates.

Aside from the Powell reunion, the Trail Blazers has sneakily been much better than one might think. Sure, they’re 6-8 and just got annihilated by the Denver Nuggets last night without Damian Lillard. But Portland has had the fifth-most difficult strength of schedule so far this season, with two games against each of the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers, as well as ones against the Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Lakers, and Nuggets. Going 6-8 against such a murderer’s row isn’t so bad at all, and it’s with Lillard shooting below 30 percent from deep.

Powell has actually been automatic for Portland this year, stroking it from deep and finishing automatically within the arc. He’s above the 90th percentile for his position both in scoring efficiency and lack of turnovers, per Cleaning the Glass. He’s had the largest on/off differential on their offensive efficiency, as the team practically never turns it over when Powell plays. He’s extending his run of great seasons in a row, which currently stands at three.

Outside of Powell, Portland’s weapons have been quiet. Lillard and McCollum are missing everything, and Covington is practically never shooting — he has one of the lowest usage rates in the league. Jusuf Nurkic has basically turned away from threes entirely.

Thus Portland currently has the … sixth-ranked offense in the league? They take a very analytically friendly shot profile, with few midrangers and plenty of attempts at the rim and from deep. And even thought Lillard and McCollum are shooting below their averages from deep, the rest of the team is on fire from behind the arc. Thus Portland is in many ways a sleeping giant. (Just don’t ask about their defense. It’s, uhh, not great.)

On Toronto’s side of things, the team is 7-7 and has lost four of its last five. At the same time, Pascal Siakam is finally himself, and he’s officially off of a minutes restriction. The team is on a skid, but it’s all worth it. I expect the internal goal was to remain .500 by the time Siakam returned. They were ahead of that when he actually came back to the court, but now they’re .500 and he’s back to himself. The team has to be optimistic going forward. That being said, the Raptors aren’t much of a team without Fred VanVleet, who remains questionable.

Game Info

Tip-off: 10:00pm EDT | TV: TSN | Radio: SN 590

The Lineup

Toronto’s Lineup

Precious Achiuwa (shoulder), Chris Boucher (back), and Fred VanVleet (groin) are all questionable. Hence the lack of posted line. Nick Nurse said that Achiuwa and VanVleet are both day to day, and their injuries are not serious. Yuta Watanabe remains out. Who knows who’ll start, but it was Goran Dragic on Saturday, so let’s go with that for now.

PG: Goran Dragic, Dalano Banton, Malachi Flynn

SG: Gary Trent Jr, Svi Mykhailiuk, David Johnson

SF: OG Anunoby, Justin Champagnie

PF: Scottie Barnes, Isaac Bonga

C: Pascal Siakam, Khem Birch

Portland’s Lineup

Damian Lillard didn’t play against Denver last night, and he’s listed as day to day with an abdominal injury. No word yet on his status against Toronto. Greg Brown is out.

PG: Anfernee Simons, Dennis Smith jr.

SG: CJ McCollum, Ben McLemore, CJ Elleby

SF: Norm Powell, Tony Snell, Trendon Watford

PF: Robert Covington, Larry Nance jr., Nassir Little

C: Jusuf Nurkic, Cody Zeller

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