Portland Trail Blazers Advance vs. toronto raptors
The Portland Trail Blazers are a bit down. Losers of six of the last eight, they really need a win to regain some confidence. The likely return of Gary Payton II certainly couldn’t hurt in that effort. If the Blazers can shoot like they can and reduce turnovers, they should have a very good shot against the Toronto Raptors this afternoon.
The Raptors are in a pretty bad spot. Winners of just three of the last 13, the Raptors could need a win even more than the Blazers. Toronto is in the midst of a nine-of-10 home game streak, and has managed only one win out of five of those home games so far. If either team wants to make the playoffs, this is the type of game they need to put in the win column.
Trail Blazers vs. Raptors- Sunday, January 8 – 12:30 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Nassir Little (out), Justise Winslow (out), Jusuf Nurkic (likely), Gary Payton II (likely)
Raptor injuries: Otto Porter Jr. (out)
SBN Affiliate: Raptors Headquarters
- Fred VanVleet. VanVleet is taking a lot of flak this season, and in fact, his stats are mostly down. His 32.5% 3-point percentage is especially worrisome to Raptors fans. Is he the main cause of Toronto’s problems or is his reduced output just a symptom? The Blazers will likely see him on the court a lot anyway, as the Raptors don’t have a solid backup point guard. Make no mistake though, VanVleet is still a main source of buckets and will likely put up numbers against the Blazers. Let’s hope he’s not enough to make the difference.
- shooting. Why is Toronto sitting in 12th place in the West, currently out of the playoff picture? They can’t hit the wide side of a barn, especially from deep. The Raptors rank 28th in the NBA in field goal percentage at 44.7% and last from deep at 32.4%. The Blazers have a disturbing tendency of late to help struggling teams find their shooting touch. Making sure that doesn’t happen again is vitally important.
- lost the ball One of the most disturbing aspects of the Blazers’ recent form has been turnovers. The raw number of them has been too high, but the biggest problem has been the timing of their occurrence. When they come in clusters like they have recently with Portland, it’s a massive momentum killer. Take Friday in Indiana, for example. After a brilliant 10-0 run to start the game, the Blazers committed four turnovers before scoring another point, allowing Indiana to tie the game. Portland had all the momentum in the world and it was wasted quickly. Don’t count on Toronto giving the Blazers any rest by making a bunch of turnovers themselves. The Raptors lead the league in committing the fewest of them.
what others are saying
With Fred VanVleet a possible free agent this summer, things are going to be tough for the Raptors, according to Jack Maloney of CBS Sports.
At this point, the Raptors are stuck in a vicious cycle with this roster. They need VanVleet on the court as much as possible to stay competitive, but the more he plays, the more he falls apart. The more he collapses, the worse he plays. The worse he plays, the more the Raptors lose. The more the Raptors lose, the more they need to play VanVleet to try and get back on track.
Aaron Rose from All Raptors writes that new 10-day signing Joe Wieskamp probably won’t get many minutes.
Even with the bench struggling to provide much support for Toronto, Wieskamp is likely to see nothing but minutes of garbage time if he makes it to the court. He’ll have five games and a handful of practices to prove he’s worth another look. If he does, the Raptors can offer him another 10 days before he has to sign a guaranteed contract.
The Raptors aren’t very good. Josh Kern from Raptors headquarters He says there’s a lot of blame to go around, but he points the finger mostly at the front office.
It’s easy to blame the players: Fred VanVleet is slumping, Scottie Barnes hasn’t progressed, Chris Boucher can’t shoot, etc. And yes, they deserve some of the blame… but so do Nick Nurse and Masai Ujiri. and Bobby Webster.
If you haven’t read about the end of regulation between the milwaukee dollars and the Raptors on Wednesday you have to take a look Lachard Binkley’s description of the madness on SBNation.
With 36 seconds left in the game, the Bucks had a 99.9 percent chance of winning. The Bucks were outscored 18-2 in the final 1:14. You heard that right: In one minute and 14 seconds, the Bucks gave up 18 points.