The Toronto Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers meet on Monday night at the Moda Center in Portland. The Raptors are on a back-to-back following a tough luck loss against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. Down a point, Pascal Siakam saw his shot rim out and the game-winner attempt failed.
The Warriors were able to escape with a 106-105 win and move to 6-4 on the season. Meanwhile, the Raptors dropped to 2-7, as their frustrating year continues in Tampa. Canadian Andrew Wiggins was the leading scorer for the Warriors against his hometown team. He netted 17 points through 34 points of action for Golden State.
Kyle Lowry was back in the lineup for the Raptors after missing the 144-123 win over the Sacramento Kings. I wouldn’t read too far into that win and jump to the conclusion that the Raptors are a better team without Lowry in the lineup. What I will say, though, is that it might be time for Bobby Webster and Masai Ujiri to deal Lowry.
He’s not getting any younger and his trade value isn’t going to go up from here. And no, the Raptors aren’t going to flip this season around and be serious contenders, so it’d make sense if Masai receives a competitive offer. James Harden has been floated in a deal with the Raptors, but nothing but rumors at this point with no substance.
The good news for the Raptors has been that Siakam has been showing signs of waking up. He scored 32 against the Suns, 17 against the Kings, and 25 against the Warriors. Siakam was playing as more of a liability than anything, as he was running into foul trouble consistently to open the season. He’s getting into a bit of a groove, but the Raptors are paying him a lot of money to be better than average.
Portland is coming off a 125-99 win over the Kings on Saturday. Their last two wins might be a turning point for this team. After losing back-to-back games against the Warriors, 137-122, and Bulls, 111-108, the Trail Blazers have looked much better in wins over the Timberwolves, 135-117, and Kings, 125-99. Those were convincing wins by the Blazers, as they advanced to 5-4 on the season. Head below for our free Raptors vs. Trail Blazers pick on January 11, 2021.
Toronto Raptors vs. Portland Trail Blazers NBA Betting Odds:
Raptors vs. Trail Blazers Prediction:
The tough defense that the Raptors became known for has been all but invisible this season. Give them credit for containing Steph Curry last night, but the overall body of work has not been pretty for the Raptors. The loss of Gasol and Ibaka for the Raptors is bigger than it first seemed. Instead of those bigs in the paint, they’re left with Aaron Baynes and Alex Len off the bench.
Both have been terrible so far, with Baynes especially being a real disappointment at center. Not that Gasol is the player he used to be, and the front office was likely smart in not bending over for him in contract negotiations. However, he’s more of an asset than Baynes right about now. Raptors’ fans thought he could be a contributor, but he’s been more of a liability on both ends of the floor.
Overall, the Raptors have allowed an average of 112.6 points per game for 19th in the NBA. It could be worse, but this is not the same unit we’ve seen in the past. Likely with tired legs tonight, the Raptors have a tough task against a Blazers team that is fourth in the league with 117.9 points per game. The Blazers have been heating up recently, as they’ve scored 260 points in their last two games.
CJ McCollum has netted 27.9 points and 5 assists per game. As good as Damian Lillard has been, with 26.4 points and 6.6 assists a game, McCollum has been playing some of the best basketball of his career through this opening stretch. While they will score, Nurkic could really have a big game in the paint in this one. If Ibaka were here, yes, they’d have a body to put on Nurkic. However, the interior defense is lacking this season. Expect the Raptors to make this a game for three quarters, but their tired legs should give way against a deep Blazers squad.