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Toronto Raptors vs San Antonio Spurs NBA Pick – January 3rd

The San Antonio Spurs finally have themselves back in consistent winning form, taking 10 out of their last 13 — the struggle was due to having eight new players on their roster for the 2018-19 season.

But now the Spurs risk that streak against the 28-11 Toronto Raptors, a team who risked it all for a Kawhi Leonard-Kyle Lowry duo. As you all know, it’s paid off massively — and now they risk a winning streak of their own, winning three out of their last four.

However, those aren’t even the biggest story lines of the game: Tonight marks the return of Kawhi Leonard to San Antonio, this after a tense fallout between Leonard and the Spurs — expect the boo-birds to be out in full force tonight. We still have no idea what happened between Leonard and San Antonio, but you can expect both sides to be full of intensity tonight — both want this win bad.

And that’s not all: You also have to remember the fallout between DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors. When Toronto made the move to trade DeRozan for Leonard, DeRozan wasn’t happy about it to say the least. He claims he’s not “caught up in the hype“, but we all know he wants this win as well — especially in his new home. That adds even more intensity to this game.

It would have also been interesting as well to see the matchup between former teammates DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, but unfortunately, Lowry is out of the game tonight after getting injections to battle a back injury — no timetable is set as of yet for his return.

With that being said, let’s get to the full injury report for tonight’s game.

INJURY REPORT

TORONTO RAPTORS

  • KYLE LOWRY: Back (Out Day-to-Day)
  • JONAS VALANCIUNAS: Thumb (Out Three-to-Four Weeks)

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

  • RUDY GAY: Wrist (Out Day-to-Day)
  • LONNIE WALKER IV: Recalled from the G League on Wednesday (Out)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

TORONTO RAPTORS

KAWHI LEONARD
Kawhi Leonard has been, well, Kawhi Leonard this season. He’s approaching the 30 mark at 27.3 PPG, while nearly hitting another elite mark (50.0 FG%) at 49.7% shooting. And that’s not all, Leonard has been incredible on the glass this season pulling down 8.2 RPG — most notably the 6.9 defensive rebounds. (Remember that for the battle against LaMarcus Aldridge.) With those statistics and the intensity that you know Leonard will bring tonight, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put up 50 — with 10 rebounds to go along with it. It’s going to be a crazy atmosphere because of this man alone.
SERGE IBAKA
With Kyle Lowry out of the game tonight, Serge Ibaka is sure to become Kawhi Leonard’s Robin to his Batman — and Ibaka has been solid this season, per usual. On the shooting end, Ibaka has put up 15.9 PPG while shooting over the 50 mark at 53.2 FG%. In rebounding, Ibaka has been solid in this department as well — he pulls down 7.3 RPG. With the presence of San Antonio Spurs’ Lamarcus Aldridge in the paint, expect Leonard and Ibaka to team-up to put pressure on him in the fight for the glass.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

DEMAR DEROZAN
Despite the drama and getting shipped out of San Antonio, DeMar DeRozan has been his typical self this season as well. He’s been the leading-scorer for the Spurs this season, tallying 22.9 PPG thus far. DeRozan also shooting a steaming 47.7 FG%. And it’s not just points that DeRozan has been contributing, he also leads the team in assists with 6.3 APG — just magnificent with ball movement this season. Like Leonard, expect a lot of intensity out of DeRozan tonight — I can’t stress how bad he’s going to want this win. And plus, he’s a lot more emotional than Kawhi Leonard is. That could play a big part in the game — and it could be either good or bad.
LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE
LaMarcus Aldridge has been a monster as usual this season on the glass, nearly hitting the double mark with a 9.0 RPG average. His offensive rebounds could be a bit-higher (3.0) being a big-man, but the 6.0 on the defensive side is surely something that the Spurs won’t complain about. It’ll also be fun to see the matchup between Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard in the paint, expect the physicality to increase massively. And if he’ll be able to handle the double-pressure with Serge Ibaka in the picture. Aldridge has also been solid in scoring, nearly hitting the 20 mark at 19.8 PPG — this to go along with a nice shooting percentage of 49.7 FG%.

CHECK THE NUMBERS

TORONTO RAPTORS

In offensive production, the Raptors have the leverage in this game sitting at 113.1 — a +2 advantage over San Antonio. Toronto shoots at a healthy 47.3 FG%. The Raptors also hold a +2 advantage on the defensive side of the ball as well, holding opponents to 107.5 PA. Another advantage (+1) in rebounding also goes to Toronto — they average 45.4 RPG.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

Despite not having an edge in any of the categories, the Spurs still bring in solid numbers thus far this season, and this while struggling earlier in the year. In points-per-game, they average 111.5 PPG — to go along with that, they shoot at a rate of 47.6 FG%. On the defensive end, they’ve allowed 109.2 PPG up until this point. Also solid and comparable to Toronto, they pull down 44.6 RPG.

POWELL’S PREDICTION

What this game boils down to most is a sports cliche: Whoever wants it the most, will win the game. As much as I hate cliches, it’s true. Despite neither side feeding into the hype, you know both teams want this win badly — especially Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan.

Expect a very intense game with a lot of physicality, and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if a fight broke out in this game — it’s going to be PURE entertainment. Both teams are going to give their all, but I expect a little more edge from Leonard to get the Raptors over the Spurs on the road in a straight-up war, and to get the odds-upset. (Plus, they have the slight statistical advantage.)

My Picks
Raptors
+110
Raptors +2
-110
Over 216.5
-110

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