Toronto Raptors: Previewing key matchups in shortest month of the year

(Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Serge Ibaka (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

With the Eastern Conference still waiting for the Toronto Raptors to falter, they have battled through both injuries and a new head coach to set themselves up for these key matchups in February.

February’s slate of NBA games isn’t quite as full as others. Due to the shorter amount of days and the All-Star break, the Toronto Raptors will only participate in eight matchups. However, Raptor fans will get to see two of their very best show down at All-Star weekend.

Though their team is unknown still, the Raptors have a pair of All-Stars awaiting their selection in the draft.

First, the Raptors offseason addition, Kawhi Leonard, made quick work of his return to elite status after missing all but nine games due to injury last year.

On the year, the man dubbed ‘Klaw,’ has posted career-high marks in scoring (27.6) and rebounding (7.9). Though his defense has slipped to a degree after a nearly a year off, Leonard has also maintained his standing as an elite perimeter defender.

Just ask the Atlanta Hawks:

Leonard’s addition has given the Raptors an upgraded scoring force in isolation with an improved 3-point shot to boot. With Danny Green playing also playing well, the trade has been all reward thus far for the northern risk takers.

Alongside their new star, the Raptors are also set to send their franchise mainstay Kyle Lowry to Charlotte for All-Star festivities.

Lowry’s injury problems notwithstanding, the guard has stayed consistent, with his distribution rising under the watch of Nick Nurse.

On the year, Lowry has averaged 14.1 points and a career-high 9.2 assists.

While Lowry’s induction was relatively surprising, so too was the man he made it over: Pascal Siakam.

A candidate for the Most Improved Player, Siakam has seen quantum leaps in his third year on the floor with the organization.

Siakam’s scoring, rebounding, distribution, and defense have all improved this year, with his 15.4 points per game sitting at third on the team behind fellow comeback candidate Serge Ibaka and the aforementioned Leonard.

Multiple players can be inducted after the first rosters are announced due to injury, which lends hope to Siakam’s case. However, it’s likely he needs to wait till next year to make his All-Star debut.