Raps (6-10) @ Golden State Warriors (10-8) - Preview & 3 keys to a big road win

The Toronto Raptors didn’t make any hay during their homestand, finishing 1-3. They start a 3-game western swing in Oakland against a Warriors team which should be in the playoff chase all season. Making the post-season in the Western Conference will be no small accomplishment, unlike the woeful East.

Dec 1, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts after scoring a basket against the Sacramento Kings during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Sacramento Kings 115-113. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors are missing do-everything swingman Andre Iguodala, but remain talented, deep and hungry, and will give a reeling Raps team huge problems. Their starting five features Stephen Curry, a skinny point guard with amazing outside shooting ability. He and vastly underrated shooting guard Klay Thompson can bury 3-balls from anywhere. There’s no relief in the frontcourt for the Raps. Andrew Bogut, who’s finally healthy, is a skilled veteran. He will lean on Jonas Valanciunas when the Raps have the ball, and pick, pass and rebound when the Dubs [short for "double-u's, or W's" - NBA lingo] are on offense. Bogut is also their only shot-blocker. David Lee is the power forward I want for Christmas. He’s constantly in motion, and can make outside jumpers or pull down rebounds. Harrison Barnes steps in for Iguodala at small forward; he’s an up-and-comer who bears watching.

GSW’s bench is nothing special, but then neither is the Raps’. Marreese Speights and Jermaine O’Neal (yes, he’s still around) will put in solid time up front, while Draymond Green and Toney Douglas are serviceable guards.

If the Raps are going to make a game of it, they will need to:

  • Fight through screens to keep Curry within arm’s reach. Stephen isn’t a leaper, though he does have a quick trigger like his father, Dell. If Kyle Lowry can stay nearby, Curry will need to dish the ball. Young Curry is also turnover-prone, another reason to keep for Kyle to keep his hands in motion when guarding him.
  • Don’t play run and gun with these guys. When the Dubs win, they score big (115 against Sac-town, 125 vs. Lake Show), and those are numbers our team doesn’t approach. I don’t like grind-it-out basketball, but there’s no alternative here. Accept it, folks -we’re going to see lots of Rudy Gay isolation plays, and lots of frantic action late in the shot clock.
  • Give Terrence Ross major minutes. TR can defend the perimeter when our starters need a rest; I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Thompson’s face much of the game. Hopefully TR will find enough open floor to launch some 3-balls.

The Raps are in a funk, and playing this team will not help. I think the Raps’ offense will come alive, but not enough to prevent Golden State from pulling away for a 107-102 triumph.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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