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Toronto Raptors

Wednesday Game Previews: Nuggets put league-best home record on the line vs. the Thunder; Raptors host Celtics

Paul George and Nikola Jokic
(Getty Images)

Oklahoma City Thunder (38-21) vs Denver Nuggets (41-18)

Where to Watch

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 27

Time: 9:00 AM IST

TV: Sony ESPN

Location: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

Game Preview

All-Star Paul George has been having a career year for the Oklahoma City Thunder, recording career-highs in points (28.0), rebounds (7.9), assists (4.2) and steals (2.2 - leading the league) while recording near career-highs in field-goal percentage (45.0%) and 3-point shooting (40.8%).

In fact, the 2016-17 league MVP Russell Westbrook has been averaging a triple-double through 59 games - 22.5 points (lowest since 2011), 11.0 assists (leading the league), and 11.3 rebounds.

Despite the great success for the Thunder so far, they could get even better.

Their defensive rating of 105.6 (3rd-best) is without their great perimeter defender in Andre Roberson, who is reportedly set to return in a couple of weeks.

Westbrook's shooting seeing an improvement would also massively help the Thunder. He's currently shooting a career-low 66.0% from the free-throw line while shooting 26.8% from beyond the three-point arc (lowest since 2010).

Having said that, over the last three games, Westbrook's scoring and numbers have seen a huge improvement - 42.7 points on 53.9% shooting from the field and 40.5% from three-point land (5.0 3PM).

Over the past month, the Denver Nuggets have been a team of streaks.

On Jan. 26, the team registered their first of a six-game win streak with the last victory in that streak sealing their coaching staff a trip to Charlotte for the All-Star Weekend.

However, since that game, they have lost three straight (@ Detroit, @ Brooklyn, and @ Philadelphia) but after those three straight losses, the team has gone on another streak, winning four straight.

The team's biggest strength is its depth (guards and forwards).

The most obvious and biggest reason for Denver's success is Nikola Jokic. The Serbian center is averaging 20.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 7.7 assists on 50.5% shooting. He has recorded twelve triple-doubles for the season (second-most) and ranks 4th in ESPN's PER (26.88).

The biggest team improvement for the team has been on the defensive end of the floor. From being ranked at 23rd last season, the young team's defensive rating is currently ranked 10th in the league.

Game Notes

  • The Denver Nuggets have the best home court advantage in the league. They have won 26 of their 30 games at the Pepsi Center.
  • The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of only four teams in the West to have a winning record on the road (17-13).
  • The teams have played twice this season so far and the Nuggets have won both of the previous games.
  • The Nuggets are set to miss two players for this contest - Trey Lyles (Hamstring) and Michael Porter Jr. (Back).
  • Andre Roberson is the only player set to miss this clash from the Thunder roster.

Last Time They Played

Date: Dec. 15, 2018

Score: Thunder 98-109 Nuggets

Thunder: Steven Adams - 26 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks on 12-of-20 shooting.

Nuggets: Nikola Jokic - 24 points, 15 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals on 8-of-16 shooting.

Box Score


Boston Celtics (37-23) vs Toronto Raptors (44-17)

Where to Watch

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 27

Time: 6:30 AM IST

TV: Sony ESPN

Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON

Game Preview

The Toronto Raptors have been among the best teams in the league in the new year.

They have the league's third-best record (17-6; 73.9%) in 2019, only bettered by the Golden State Warriors and the Milwaukee Bucks. In February, the team from the North, has gone 7-2 including an 7-game winning streak.

The Raptors are one of only three teams (Milwaukee, Boston) to feature in the top of both the offensive (112.3 - 6th) and defensive rating (107.5 - 8th) rankings.

Going forward, the Toronto franchise has 2nd easiest schedule, as per tankathon.

Coming to the Celtics, it's been an up-and-down season.

They have struggled to find consistency this year. At one point before the break, they won 10 in 11 games but then lost consecutive games to the LA teams. However, prior to the break, they did register a huge win against revamped Philadelphia 76ers even without Kyrie Irving in the lineup.

With the stretch run coming up, there's no better time for the Celtics to find their on-court chemistry than now. What's worse, the Celtics have lost their two games after the All-Star break including one against the Bulls in Chicago.

Despite all their trials and tribulatiosn this season, Boston is one of only three teams (Bucks and the Toronto Raptors) to be in the top 10 of both offensive and defensive ratings in the league.

Like their previous matchups, this Raptors-Celtics is poised to be another entertaining contest.

Game Notes

  • The Boston Celtics have won 74.2% of their home games at the TD Garden (23-8).
  • The Toronto Raptors, meanwhile, have among the third-best road records in the league - 19-11.
  • This contest is the season series finale. So far, the Celtics hold a 2-1 advantage.
  • The hosts are set to miss one player for this game - Aron Baynes (Foot).
  • On the other hand, the Raptors will miss Fred VanVleet (Thumb) while Kawhi Leonard is reportedly a game-time decision.

Last Time They Played

Date: Jan. 17, 2019

Score: Raptors 108-117 Celtics

Raptors: Kawhi Leonard - 33 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 assists on 10-of-19 shooting

Celtics: Kyrie Irving - 27 points, 18 assists, and 5 rebounds on 11-of-19 shooting.

Box Score

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