Raptors-Warriors Preview

Toronto coach Dwane Casey has been impressed with how the Raptors have handled a tough road trip against Western Conference foes, knowing that it will only make his team stronger as it moves ahead.

Winning at NBA-best Golden State would be another leap forward.

Toronto looks to avoid a 10th consecutive road loss to the Warriors while preventing Golden State from recording its longest home winning streak in nearly 25 years Friday night.

The East-leading Raptors (24-8) lost at Chicago on Dec. 22, then had four days off before opening a five-game trip with wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver on back-to-back nights.

They fell 102-97 to Portland in overtime Tuesday as Kyle Lowry scored a team-high 25 points. Despite his club blowing a 13-point lead, Casey came away proud of the Raptors’ effort against a Blazers team which has the league’s second-best record.

"I love the way we competed in a hostile environment," Casey said. "If you can compete in that environment, the way we did (Tuesday), you can compete in a lot of places."

Toronto hasn’t fared well in Oakland since winning there Feb. 8, 2004, losing its last nine visits while giving up an average of 119.0 points. The Warriors (25-5) routed Philadelphia 126-86 on Tuesday for their 10th straight win at home, where they haven’t won 11 in a row since a team-record 15-game run Dec. 13, 1989-Feb. 15, 1990.

With Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli still out with injuries, center Marreese Speights made his third straight start and matched his season high of 23 points against his former team.

"I didn’t play him (much) a couple games and he just stayed ready," coach Steve Kerr said. "Then he got himself in the rotation and he’s been in ever since. Mo’s had a fantastic season scoring and doing his thing."

Speights should continue seeing quality time due to the injuries. Bogut has missed 10 games due to chonodromalacia/bone edema in his right knee, and Ezeli has been out three straight with a left ankle sprain.

Kerr isn’t sure when either will be back.

"They are doing better and they are on the court moving around, but I don’t really spend a lot of time asking them," Kerr said.

Casey knows Toronto needs to be aware of Speights’ abilities, as well as Golden State’s tough defense. The Warriors rank fifth in turnovers forced at 16.3 per game and ninth in points allowed at 98.2.

"Speights is having an unbelievable year shooting the ball," Casey said. "They’re a well-rounded team offensively and they (haven’t compromised) their defense. People see all the offense, but they forget how good of a defensive team they really are."

The Raptors have won eight of 10, an even more impressive run considering DeMar DeRozan has missed the last 16 games with a torn tendon in his groin.

DeRozan went through his first full practice Thursday since getting hurt. He doesn’t expect to play against Golden State and also could sit out when Toronto completes its trip Sunday in Phoenix, though his return is coming soon.

DeRozan had 32 points to help overcome 34 from Stephen Curry as the Raptors ended a three-game overall skid to the Warriors with a 104-98 home victory in the most recent meeting March 2.

Curry has averaged 28.1 points in eight career games against Toronto, his best average against any opponent.