TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors will look to close out its first homestand of the season on a winning note after dropping a 94-91 decision to the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
The Raptors (1-1) wrap up a three-game home stretch against the visiting Denver Nuggets (1-1) on Monday night at Air Canada Centre. The Nuggets begin a five-game road trip in Toronto after falling 115-113 to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.
Despite the home loss, there's good news on the horizon for the Nuggets. Both forward Darrell Arthur and guard Gary Harris could return from injury against the Raptors.
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Harris has missed the first two games with a groin injury.
“It's good to see him on the court (Friday). And as is always the case, how does he feel the next day,” coach Michael Malone told the Denver Post prior to Saturday's game.
Arthur, meanwhile, has missed both games due to a knee injury.
“Gary is a guy that is one of the better young two-way players in the NBA,” Malone said. “We are going to be really smart and prudent about his injury and not rush him back so when he does come back, we can have him for an extended stay.”
Facing the Raptors will mark the first NBA game north of the border for Canadian guard Jamal Murray. The 19-year-old University of Kentucky product grew up 70 miles west of Toronto.
Through his first two games of the season, Murray has averaged 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
“It's very difficult, you've got to have some intellect going your way,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of a young player like Murray adjusting to the NBA. “He's a very intelligent kid.
“He's going to be a nice young player, also, his speed with the basketball, his ability to shoot the ball — once he understands the speed of the game, angles and personnel and understands the league after he goes through it a couple times — he's going to be a really really effective player for Denver.”
The Raptors dropped both games against the Nuggets last season falling 106-105 at home in December and losing 112-93 at Denver in February.
“People looked at them last year and said, 'Well how did you lose to them twice?' They're a very talented, skilled team that I think is underrated just because they're so young,” Casey said.
Toronto opened its 22nd season with a 109-91 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday before falling to the Cavaliers.
Following Monday's game, Toronto heads to Washington to play the Wizards on Wednesday before returning home to host the Miami Heat on Friday.