Toronto Raptors (31-26, 10-17 road) vs. Okla. City Thunder (34-23, 17-11 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 106.2 (17th), Raptors – 111.7 (3rd)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.8 (3rd), Raptors – 112.1 (30th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.7 (16th), Raptors – 93.1 (11th)
View from the enemy: Raptors Republic
Chris Bosh is not coming to Oklahoma City. Not ever, just tonight. The Thunder’s catching a break as Bosh sat out Friday’s game with an ankle injury and didn’t travel with the team to OKC. The main difference between someone like Bosh not playing and Steve Nash is that Nash’s backup was the capable Goran Dragic. Bosh’s is Rasho Nesterovic. So yeah, that’s a little different.
Toronto is a team though that started the season poorly and was a few losses away from likely blowing everything up and starting over. But the team has come together and now is not only likely a playoff team in the East, but probably a tough out as well. They’re a great offensive team that basically doesn’t try on the other end (last in the league in defensive rating). But they score inside and out, rebound well and get just enough stops to win.
Toronto coming in: The Raps last played Friday night, losing to Cleveland. They’ve lost two straight and are 6-4 in their last 10. They are just 10-17 in the United States though, and this is a game they kind of need.
Since Bosh won’t play, Oklahoma City has a favorable matchup nearly across the board. The combo of Nenad Krstic, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison is much better than Nesterovic, Reggie Evans and Amir Johnson. The Thunder SHOULD be able to dominate the glass.
Andrea Bargnani is a seven-footer with touch from the outside, above average passing abilities and a guy that can put it on the deck. People have forgotten about 2006’s top overall pick, but he’s become a quality 17-6 guy that can carry his team offensively night to night. He’ll surely be a tough match for Jeff Green, but Green will be hard on the defensively challenged Bargnani as well.
Hedo Turkoglu has good size to guard Kevin Durant, but he doesn’t have either the quickness or lateral movement to keep up with KD. And Turkoglu is loves that step-back jumper, which is something KD should be able to challenge with his length.
Again, since Bosh won’t play, it will take someone stepping up and supporting Bargnani for Toronto to win. And the Raps have capable guys to do just that. DeMar DeRozan can explode. Jose Calderon can get hot from outside. Turkoglu, of course. Or maybe someone like Sonny Weems.
This is one of those games the Thunder should absolutely take care of, which is strange considering that Raptors are a quality squad. But I’m mainly basing that on the fact that these are the type of home games OKC has performed well in. But if Chris Bosh were playing, this is a different story. And even if he doesn’t, the Raptors have enough talent to get it done. It’s offense vs. defense in this one, and I’m hoping the defensive-minded squad gets it done.
Tip at 6:00 CST. Go Sunday Thunder.