Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Records: Raptors (23-7); Trail Blazers (15-13)
Where to Watch
Date: Saturday, Dec. 15
TV: NBA League Pass
Location: Moda Center, Portland, OR
After blowing out the LA Clippers and Golden State Warriors this week, the Toronto Raptors travel to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers.
The Trail Blazers got off to one of the hottest starts in the league this season, but they now find themselves in the middle of the Western Conference standings having lost 10 of their last 15 games. All of their wins during that stretch have come against teams with losing records and most of their losses have come against playoff caliber teams, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets.
Even so, the Trail Blazers have the firepower to compete with any team in the league with their one-two punch of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Lillard is in the midst of another fantastic season with averages of 27.0 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game. He's already made 82 3-pointers on the season, putting him behind only five players for most in the league.
McCollum is posting similar numbers (22.0 PTS, 3.9 TRB, 2.5 AST) while shooting an efficient 47.2 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from 3-point range. McCollum is coming off of a 40-point game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday in which he made 16 of his 27 shot attempts.
With Lillard and McCollum accounting for almost two-thirds of Portland's scoring on the season, Toronto's backcourt will have its hands full trying to contain the explosive guards.
The Raptors might have to get it done without two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard, too. Leonard has missed the team's last two games with a hip injury and he's listed as questionable for Saturday.
Kyle Lowry has stepped up in a big way in Leonard's absence with 21 points against the Clippers and a 23-point, 12-assist double-double against the Warriors. He got some much-needed help in the backcourt from Fred VanVleet in those games with a combined 15 points, 16 assists and nine rebounds as Leonard's replacement in the starting lineup.
If Leonard isn't able to play, the Raptors will need more of the same from Lowry and VanVleet - plus a strong defensive performance from Danny Green - to extend their current win streak to three games.
After dislocating his left thumb in Toronto's win over Golden State on Thursday, Jonas Valanciunas is expected to be sidelined for at least four weeks.
The Raptors have called up Chris Boucher from the G League for frontcourt depth while Valanciunas recovers. In 14 games with the Raptors 905 this season, Boucher is averaging 29.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per contest.
Boucher broke the 905's scoring record with 47 points on Thursday.
Serge Ibaka has scored 20-plus points in three consecutive games for the Raptors. He also pulled down 12 rebounds against the Warriors to record his fourth double-double of the season.
The Raptors will lean on the big man even more now that Valanciunas is out.
Last Time They Played
Date: Feb. 2, 2018
Score: Raptors 130, Trail Blazers 105 (box score)
Raptors: DeMar DeRozan - 35 points, three assists, two rebounds
Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard - 32 points, 10 assists, three rebounds