Raptors (4-2) at Thunder (6-1): Preview
The Toronto Raptors begin a two-game road trip, meeting the Oklahoma City Thunder in their first match-up of the season.
The Thunder are off to a hot start to begin the season, with their sole loss coming off a back-to-back against the Golden State Warriors. Currently in the middle of a five-game homestand, the Thunder are off to their best start in franchise history and will look to improve to (7-1) on the season. Meanwhile, Toronto is coming off a loss at home against the Sacramento Kings, that saw them in the lead for the majority of the game until DeMarcus Cousins channeled his inner fury late.
3 Keys to victory for Raptors
Rebound the basketball: Every single game the Thunder have won up until this point, they have out-rebounded their opponents. With Jonas Valanciunas questionable to play due to a knee contusion, Piscal Siakam and the rest of the Raptor bigs, need to be on top of the glass if they want a chance.
Make your shots: It has been obvious that the Raptors haven’t been able to dial it down from deep to start off the season, but missing wide open shots from beyond the arc is unacceptable. The Raptors have shot a combined 23.7% from deep in their last two games while the Thunder have also impressively held their last two opponents to just 22.3% shooting from deep. Just please hit your shots.
Strong 3rd quarter: The Thunder have run away with the game in their last two wins after a strong outing to begin the second half. Toronto cannot be stagnant in the third and must be able to withstand the first blow thrown at them in the second half to prevail.
3 Thunder players to watch
Russell Westbrook: There’s no way Westbrook isn’t on your mind when you’re talking about the Thunder. His uncanny ability to get to the rim with such ease and finish with such unprecedented power and agility is simply amazing. He’ll probably get a triple-double and the Raptors can’t do anything about it.
Enes Kanter: The beast from Turkey. The Raptors, who have expressed concern defensively in the paint, need to pray Kanter doesn’t eat them up like he has in his last two outings, putting up an average of 22 points & 10 rebounds.
Steven Adams: His ability to come off the pick and roll and take pressure off Westbrook rolling to the basket is something to be worried about if you are the Raptors. Not particularly known as a shot blocker, Adam has been somewhat effective at altering shots, averaging 1.1 blocks to start the season and 2 blocks in his last two games.
Conclusion & Final Score
This quick two-game road trip should be a great test for the Raptors in the early stages of the season. How will the Raptors fare against two teams which have started off the season pretty hot in Oklahoma and the Charlotte Hornets?
The Raptors will need more scoring production from everybody not named DeMar DeRozan.
Raptors 103 – Thunder 99