The Toronto Raptors have been sharp offensively on the way to the top of the Eastern Conference, but it’s their effort on the defensive end that has keyed some easy victories at home.
As they look to extend the best start in team history, the Raptors will try to open 5-0 in Toronto for the first time in 11 years as they continue a seven-game homestand against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.
Toronto (6-1) is averaging an NBA-best 107.4 points after shooting a season-high 56.6 percent in Sunday’s 120-88 home win over Philadelphia. The Raptors moved alone atop the conference for the first time in their 20-year history.
"They are one of the best teams in the East right now,” 76ers guard Tony Wroten said.
DeMar DeRozan needs 21 points to pass Andrea Bargnani for third on the Raptors’ all-time list. He hit 8 of 12 from the field and all eight free-throw attempts against the 76ers for 24 points.
DeRozan totaled 52 in two meetings with the Magic last season.
While Toronto has been solid offensively in all arenas, the club has been at its best defensively on its own floor.
The Raptors are allowing 103.0 points and 49.3 percent shooting on the road, but have limited their last three home opponents to 86.7 and 41.3.
They held Philadelphia to 37.9 percent from the floor, keeping a team below 40.0 for the second straight game.
"It feels good to start good like this," center Jonas Valanciunas said. "We’ve got to do this every game."
Toronto, seeking its best home start since going 5-0 in 2003, faces an Orlando team that has scored 90.3 per game while dropping three of four on the road.
The Magic (2-5) have also averaged 90.0 points during an eight-game losing streak to Toronto and have reached 100 four times while going 2-29 in their last 31 on the road.
Both road wins in that span have come against the woeful 76ers on Feb. 26 and on Wednesday.
The Magic were outrebounded 45-31 in a 104-96 loss at Brooklyn on Sunday as they failed to win a third straight. The Raptors held a 50-40 rebounding edge in a 108-95 win at Orlando on Nov. 1.
”A lot of times, rebounding is position, your early work," coach Jacque Vaughn said Sunday. "I think we can continue to address that and take care of that.”
Toronto, among the NBA leaders with 33.9 free-throw attempts per game, went 38 of 48 at the line in the first meeting while the Magic were 12 of 24. DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined to hit 17 of 21 shots and score 47 points as the Raptors overcame a 4-of-21 effort from 3-point range.
Lowry has totaled 61 points while sinking 10 of 16 from beyond the arc in his last two home meetings with the Magic.
Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic is averaging career highs of 18.6 points and 12.3 rebounds after scoring a season-high 27 on Sunday.
Evan Fournier led the Magic with 18 points Nov. 1 and is off to a surprising start with a career-high 16.0 per game while filling in for Victor Oladipo (facial fracture).