Toronto Raptors: 3 Keys to W vs DeMar DeRozan and the Spurs

(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors visit San Antonio to face their exiled son, DeMar DeRozan, for the first time this season. This is a “revenge game” at its finest and you can expect a dramatic outcome.

If you take a sip of coffee every time the DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard trade is brought up, you’d be wired and visiting the washroom in a jiffy. All the focus will be on them and they will play integral roles in tonight’s Raptors-Spurs match-up, but they’re just half the story.

San Antonio has won seven of their last ten games and have eked their way into contention. LaMarcus Aldridge is the man in the middle leading the charge beside DeRozan. But the extra support, especially from their other guards is what keeps them afloat.

The Spurs’ ragtag band of hardly known draft picks and former Raptors give the team plenty of depth. San Antonio’s bench is what the “Bench Mob” used to be last season. They have a +8.8 Efficiency Recap Difference, which is fifth in the league.

Jakob Poeltl has also been a difference-maker with the Spurs and has anchored their bench. Guards Bryn Forbes and Marco Belinelli provide much-needed three-point shooting. Derrick White has been playing well for the last three games.

Toronto, on the other hand, will be weaker at guard with Kyle Lowry continuing to miss time with a back injury. But the Raptors are 6-3 without him thanks to Leonard and Pascal Siakam picking up the slack. Fred VanVleet has been decent in Lowry’s stead, but he still goes through shooting slumps.

Lowry is missed. But Raptors fans everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief when big man Jonas Valanciunas returns. Since his absence, Toronto has struggled to contain big men. Nikola Vucevic exposed this weakness when he had a career night in Orlando.

Toronto is only 5-4 without JV and they’ve dropped to the bottom half of the NBA in defensive stats.

Aldridge continues to play at an All-Star level despite his insistence to stick to two-pointers much like DeRozan.

The Spurs won’t be threatening the Raptors with three-pointers as much as other teams, but they can find many other ways to exploit them.

And don’t discount the possibility of Davis Bertans stepping up to hurt Toronto in critical stretches.

3 keys to Raptors victory

  1. Hit those threes. San Antonio attempts the fewest threes per game but someone like Forbes or Bertans can get hot. Toronto needs to keep these guys in check while hitting their own threes. Toronto ranks 25th in the NBA in three-point percentage. If they go cold, they’re exposed.
  2. Make Aldridge work. Containing Aldridge will be a problem, especially inside. He must earn every basket he scores, by being forced to bang against Serge Ibaka or Moose. Tiring him out as he defends repeated paint attacks is a smart tactic.
  3. Be aggressive on defence. San Antonio is 15-5 at home thanks to being incredibly efficient. They make each possession count. It’ll be tough to do in the confines of the AT&T Center, but if Toronto can harass DeRozan and the Spurs’ guards enough, they might just win the turnover battle.


Leonard and Siakam are coming off career-best scoring performances against Utah at home. But on this night, it’ll be DeRozan and Aldridge leading the Spurs to a hard-fought win.

Toronto Raptors 104 – San Antonio Spurs 110