Raptors look to end cold-streak against Nuggets : Preview and 3 keys

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 1: Kyle Lowry /

The Toronto Raptors have not played particularly well as of late but will attempt to bounce-back against a Denver Nuggets team that is playing for their playoff lives.

With only nine games remaining, currently sitting two games back of the Utah Jazz for the eighth spot in the playoffs, every game matters for the Denver Nuggets. The same urgency does not exist for the Toronto Raptors. Up three games, with only a handful remaining, it would take a total collapse for the Celtics to grab the first seed.

If the Nuggets are not able to make the playoffs this season, it would be an unquestionable failure. After missing the post-season for four consecutive years, Denver figured to finally have the roster to make it back this season. The team that finished 40-42 the season before was young, talented and added multi-time all-star Paul Millsap.

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But things have not gone according to plan for Denver. The team has regressed slightly on offense, Millsap has been injured the majority of the season, and the Western Conference remains deep as ever.

This doesn’t mean the season hasn’t had its bright spots. Jamal Murray has developed into a potential all-star, Gary Harris has continued his unbelievable improvement, and Nikola Jokic continues to be an offensive wizard.

Perhaps most importantly, their season isn’t dead. They have the opportunity to catch a couple of teams in front of them, but it will start with a critical game against the Toronto Raptors.

Meanwhile, the Raptors are struggling. The team has lost three out of their last five, with the two wins coming against the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets. In terms of seeding, the team likely doesn’t need a win, but for moral purposes one sure would be nice.

Three Keys

  1. Push the tempo – Denver is on the second night of a back-to-back, while Toronto is well rested. The Raptors will need to push the tempo to tire the legs of the Nuggets.
  2. Get to the bench minutes – The Nugget’s starters are one of a handful of starting lineups as talented as the Raptors. Toronto just needs to play the starters even and allow the bench to do its thing.
  3. Force turnovers – The Nuggets have one of the best offenses in the NBA. However, they are prone to turnovers. The Raptors will need to to force the action and cause a tired Nuggets team to cough it up several times.

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The Nuggets are desperate and desperate teams typically find a way to win in regular season games. However, with Toronto’s poor play of late, they have some urgency themselves. Combine that with Denver’s tired legs and it equals a Raptors victory.

Toronto 116 – Denver 108