DeMar DeRozan is currently leading the NBA in scoring at 33.7 points a game. The way he’s been playing has brought up some interesting discussions. He seems to be making the transition from an All Star to a Superstar. He get’s the shot he wants, when he wants it. He looks elite this year. His 33.7 points per game has been crucial for the Raptors offense.
The Raptors are currently averaging 100.8 points per game while averaging only 26.2% from the 3 point line. The 3 has been a struggle for them early into the season. They have to shoot better from 3 in order maintain a balanced offense.
Toronto recently lost to the Sacramento Kings at home this past Sunday. The Kings were on a 4 game losing streak and were on a back to back until they beat the Raptors. It was clear that the Raptors didn’t take advantage of that situation. It’s important to note that the Raptors didn’t have their big man, Jonas Valanciunas. The rookies, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl had to take turns in guarding DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings had 52 points in the paint compared to the Raptors 30 points.
When Jonas is on the floor, the Raptors are obviously a better team. He was a late game scratch due to a left-knee contusion on Sunday. He’s listed as day-to-day and is questionable to play today.
Against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Raptors will need their stars to be stars. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry will need to lead their team to victory. Playing on the road is tough, so your stars have to lead you. The Raptors are looking to end their 1 game losing streak.
The Oklahoma City has a 6-1 record. They’ve done that by rebounding the ball well and playing very good defense. The team has one leader and that’s Russell Westbrook. He currently has a league high usage rating of 42.7.
The bench has been playing well too. Enes Kanter has been leading the second unit by averaging 12.4 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. In his last two games he’s been averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds in just 21 minutes of play. With Toronto potentially not having Jonas, Enes Kanter could have another big game with the thin front court depth of the Raptors. Jared Sullinger is also out for 3 months. It’s up to the front court of Oklahoma City to have a productive night if they want to beat the Raptors at home.
At the end of the day, this team goes as Russell Westbrook goes. As long as he maintains his usage rating and continues his production, Oklahoma City will be a team to watch in the Western Conference.
The last 3 times the Raptors have played the Thunder at the Chesapeake Energy Arena they’ve beat them twice and lost once. The Raptors scored an average of 105.3 points, while Oklahoma City averaged 98.6 points. Those 3 games were played while Kevin Durant was with the team. This is the first time both teams have faced each other since Kevin Durant’s departure.
With the confidence that Oklahoma City is playing with they have a good chance of winning today. Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City’s frontcourt will be a little too much for Toronto to handle. Kyle and DeMar will get their points, which is why it will be a very competitive game, but, Oklahoma City has been rolling and it will be tough for the Raptors to win in an electric stadium with the form that Oklahoma City is in.
Prediction: OKC wins 105-101 at home