The Raptors (34-30, 7th in East) and Spurs (25-40, 12th in West) meet for the second and final time this season. Toronto won the first game in front of no fans at Scotia by 25 in January, which was one of the rare times this season that Nick Nurse has had a full roster at his disposal. Fred VanVleet posted his third straight 30 point game and Justin Champagnie made four (!!) threes off the bench.
This time it’s the Raptors health that is cloudy without OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn and possibly Fred again. The Spurs will have all-star and stat sheet stuffer supreme Dejounte Murray (26.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 9.4 apg since the all-star break), who didn’t play in the first meeting. Murray ranks second in the league with 12 triple-doubles, trailing only Nikola Jokic (18). He is also the NBA’s cookie monster, leading the league with 2.1 steals a game. Murray made second team all defense back in his 2018 sophomore campaign and will be on the short list again.
Toronto enters part two of a six game road trip looking to avoid a fourth straight loss. Brooklyn is still two games behind in eighth for what is increasingly looking like a homecourt battle for the 7-8 play-in game. San Antonio is in clear rebuild mode after letting DeMar DeRozan go, however the Spurs only trail New Orleans by two games for the West’s final play-in spot almost by accident. The lower half of the Western Conference is down bad.
Player to Watch
I’m cheating here because the focus is on a coach.
Gregg Popovich is one win away from setting a new NBA standard for regular season success. Pop is currently tied with Don Nelson with 1,335 victories, and they have done it in vastly different ways. Nellie had numerous stops along the way including Milwaukee, Golden State twice, New York briefly and Dallas. Popovich is in his 26th season as the Spurs bench boss and has five championship rings. The 74 year old has one year remaining on his contract and it’s still unknown who will eventually be Pop’s successor when he decides to retire. The Spurs are on a seven game homestand so unless they go on a massive losing streak, Pop will receive a well deserved ovation from the Spurs faithful at some point. Could be tonight.
Tip-Off: 8:30pm EST | TV: TSN 4 | Radio: TSN 1050
Toronto Raptors Results, Lineups & Injuries
San Antonio Spurs Results, Lineups & Injuries
My over/under prediction (12-12 this season): 228 is too high with the Raptors current offensive woes and lack of spacing, even if VanVleet plays. San Antonio ranks seventh with 112.8 points per game but are average in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Pop has five more home games in a row to pick up his milestone win after this; the flowers aren’t going anywhere. The Raptors played hard against Cleveland, they just couldn’t buy a bucket for the first three quarters. I have a feeling more shots will fall tonight in one of those tight grinders.
Raptors 109, Spurs 104