Toronto Raptors Weekly Preview: Week Two

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From Last Word on Pro Basketball, by Thomas Tittley

The Toronto Raptors have an action-packed week coming up from October 31st to November 6th. They will play four times this week, facing four different teams that create tough match-ups for Toronto.

Toronto Raptors Weekly Preview: Week Two

Recap of Last Week

The Raptors opened up the season 1-1 with a win on opening night against the Detroit Pistons, followed by a loss to the defending champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Against the Pistons, Toronto looked dominant and the game was never really close, as the Raptors won 109-91. The Cleveland loss was a close game, with Toronto falling 94-91. The loss happened despite the NBA coming out and stating that the refs missed a foul by J.R. Smith on Jonas Valanciunas in the last minute during a tied game, which led to an open three-pointer for Kyrie Irving. Both DeMar DeRozan and Valanciunas have had terrific starts. DeRozan looks better, than ever averaging 36 points through his first two games, while Valanciunas has had two consecutive double-double performances. That includes a career-high 32 points for Valanciunas against the Pistons and Andre Drummond.

This Week’s Matchups

Denver Nuggets (H), Washington Wizards (A), Miami Heat (H), Sacramento Kings (H)

Denver Nuggets (1-1)

The Raptors will play the young, up-and-coming Denver Nuggets on Monday night in what is always a tough matchup for Toronto. It is no secret that the key to Toronto’s success is scoring inside. And the Nuggets have one of the deepest and biggest frontcourts in the NBA with Kenneth Faried, Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic. Despite the Raptors being the far superior team, they managed to lose both games against Denver last season. Pascal Siakam will have to grow up fast to deal with the size and skill of the Denver big-men. If Jonas can have a big game the Raptors should win this game but it will be a competitive one for sure.

Key Matchup

Jonas Valanciunas vs. the Denver frontcourt


Too close to call

Washington Wizards (0-2)

The Washington Wizards have had a very tough start to their season getting beat badly by the Atlanta Hawks then losing a tough overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. They will have had three days off so there should be plenty of time for them to prepare. Despite crushing Toronto in preseason these are two teams with very different levels of talent. Kyle Lowry has gotten off to a very slow start this season, only averaging 13.5 points through two games. He will be going up against one of the other top guards in the east, John Wall. If Toronto can neutralize the deadly Marcin Gortat and Wall pick and roll then Toronto should have no trouble in this game.

Key Matchup

Kyle Lowry vs. John Wall


Toronto win 108-93

Miami Heat (1-2)

The Miami Heat have been severely weakened this offseason with the loss of Dwyane Wade and the severe health issues of Chris Bosh. They are a very young and athletic team but due to their lack of scoring and leadership they could struggle this season. They do have one bright spot early this season, Hassan Whiteside. The 27-year-old has been exceptional this season averaging 21 points and 14 rebounds through three games. Without Wade, the offense has primarily shifted to pick and roll action with Goran Dragic and Whiteside. This will be another game where Jonas Valanciunas will have to be excellent. Although Valanciunas did dominate Whiteside through two playoff games last year before getting hurt. He should again have big game. In the end, Miami’s lack of scoring options will be there downfall and this game, at least on paper, should not be close.

Key Matchup

Jonas Valanciunas vs. Hassan Whiteside


Raptors win 98-88

Sacramento Kings (2-1)

The Kings have struggled extraordinarily the past ten years, but they have gotten off to a positive start this year. They still have arguably the best center in the NBA in Demarcus Cousins and he will be a focal point in their offense. Defensively they have struggled, allowing over 100 points in two of their first three games. Luckily for them they have had no problem scoring fairly easily, although two of their games were against the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves. Toronto has looked very stout defensively and could pose lots of problems for this high-powered offense. If Toronto can limit Cousin’s surrounding cast, Rudy Gay and Aaron Afflalo, Toronto should be able to pull off a win.

Key Matchup

Demarre Carrolvs. Rudy Gay


Toronto win 104-100


Main Photo

TORONTO, CANADA – APRIL 16: Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the Toronto Raptors holds on to the ball after securing a rebound against the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs on April 16, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)