San Antonio Spurs visit ailing Toronto Raptors


Can a banged-up Raptors squad give the well-rested Spurs a game?

After a successful first win on the home stand (where the Toronto Raptors didn’t push higher than second gear), the dynamic San Antonio Spurs make their annual trip to the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors will have to reach for the throttle for a full 48 minutes if they look to take down the Spurs, who just dismantled the Philadelphia 76ers by 51 points.

Surely the depth on the Raptors is deeper than the 76ers? Yet the Spurs crushed Philly without Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard or Manu Ginobili. Seeing as though the Raptors will be missing injured starters DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas, it will be interesting to see who gets their turn on the inactive list tonight for the Spurs.

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The saving grace for the Raps is that Kyle Lowry is 11-21 from three in the last two games, shooting a blistering 52.4%. They will need all hands on deck for this contest as the notable Spurs have been the model of success for all sports franchises. Their consistency was discussed by assistant coach Rex Kalamian, “You don’t really know unless you watch them play every night and you begin to understand that a lot of the things they get, the backdoor cuts, these are built up over time.”

With free agent prize LaMarcus Aldridge, the San Antonio Spurs rank 3rd in the league in offensive efficiency (104.4) and a league-best defensive efficiency (92) and it’s not even close. This team looks to be the second best team in the league this season, just behind the Golden State Warriors, and they are doing it in a completely different way. The fast paced, pass and cut Spurs team is gone, now they play big, slow and efficient. It doesn’t matter how they do it, they just always do it.

Dec 7, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (7) tries to get past Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Lakers 102-93. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

3 keys to victory

Small ball the bigs out of the game

The Raptors frontcourt is depleted since Jonas Valanciunas and Lucas Nogueira have gone down. I would hope for some creativity in the lineups that will force the Spurs hand into playing a smaller line up. Aldridge and Duncan mixed with Leonard is a daunting frontcourt, and best in the league (some say). Time to get creative and nullify their size.

Play with pace

The Spurs rank 26th in pace as their game relies on quality half court execution. Unfortunately, the Raptors rank 25th and their offence is still figuring out the kinks in the half court. Usually an isolation happy team, the Raptors will need to push the ball in order to keep the old creaky Spurs huffing and puffing, to at least make it uncomfortable.

Hit your shots

I’m looking at you, Patrick Patterson and Terrence Ross. If there was ever a game where both these players could play reasonably well, it would be this one. The stingy San Antonio defence will make life very tough on Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, so any help from the distance shooters will give them a chance to take this one.

Key players of the game

SAS: Tony Parker; now a little bit older and a little bit slower, he can still fill it up in a hurry. He hasn’t been the anchor for the spurs this year as he has in the past, but don’t let that fool you for a big game here and there!

TOR: Cory Joseph; having a fantastic break-out season for the Raptors, you know playing against your old team will light that fire to truly light it up. He always plays hard but watch an extra motivated CoJo this evening.

Next: What to do with the Raptors injuries?


The franchise we all we wish we cheered for will awe the crowds in their molasses-like game play, while effectively nullifying our best players since half of them are on the trainer’s table.