OKC Thunder (13-6, 7-2 road) at Toronto Raptors (7-11, 5-4 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.5 (10th), Raptors – 106.7 (15th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 108.2 (17th), Raptors – 108.3 (19th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.6 (16th), Raptors – 94.4 (7th)
View from the enemy: Raptors Republic
NEWS: KD is out again tonight with a sprained left knee.
The Thunder continue on to Toronto where they will again be without the services of Kevin Durant. And much like the New Jersey game, the Raptors aren’t some pushover that you should be able to walk by even without your best player. They’re playing tough and no doubt will see this as an opportunity to get a win over one of the West’s best.
Toronto coming in: The Raptors have won five of seven, but lost two of three. They recently played Wednesday, beating the Wizards at home.
If you’re Russell Westbrook, you’re basically salivating right now. You’re playing without KD so you’re going to be the man again tonight. Plus, you’ve got Jose Calderon guarding you. Calderon is a nice offensive point guard, but he’s slightly defensively challenged and doesn’t have the quicks to keep up with Westbrook. A major edge toward OKC there. Though Westbrook can’t try and overdo things. He’s got to just stay within himself otherwise he’ll get out of control and do more harm than good.
DeMar DeRozan is emerging as a legit scorer for the Raps, so Thabo will have his hands full guarding him. DeRozan is super athletic and prefers to get to the rim above all else, so Thabo’s going to try and force him to stay on the perimeter as much as possible.
Inside, the Raptors are decent, but were weakened by Reggie Evans’ injury. Andrea Bargnani is playing quality basketball and is always a threat to get hot with his mid-range jumper. So between him and Nenad Krstic, we’ll see two big men hovering outside of the paint. Amir Johnson plays the power forward spot, so it will be a long, athletic matchup between him and Serge Ibaka, who will likely start at the 4.
The Raptor bench has some firepower with Leandro Barbosa, Linas Kleiza and Jerryd Bayless on it, so without KD, OKC is going to need some contribution from James Harden and Eric Maynor. Harden appeared to gather some confidence from the Nets game so hopefully that carries over.
The Raptors score in bunches and defend lightly. But they’re the type of group that can get rolling offensively and will be tough to slow down. The Thunder needs to set a defensive tone early and focus on getting stops before working the offensive end. Points shouldn’t be tough to come by tonight, but stops might be.
Tip at 6:00 CT. Go Thuuuun-da.