Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Golden State Warriors
Records: Raptors (22-7); Warriors (19-9)
Where to Watch
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 12
Time: 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
TV: TSN 1/4/5
Radio: Sportsnet 590 The FAN
Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
The Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors gave us one of the best games of the season when they met last month.
While the Warriors were without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, Kevin Durant almost powered Golden State to victory with a 51-point, 11-rebound masterpiece.
Kawhi Leonard was spectacular in Toronto's overtime win, scoring a season-high 37 points and pulling down eight rebounds.
Quite a lot has changed for both teams since that matchup. Whereas the Raptors have lost three of their last six games, the Warriors have won four of their last five.
After missing 11 straight games with a groin injury, Curry returned to the lineup following the Warriors' loss to the Raptors and wasted no time returning to his MVP form. He's averaging 31.4 points over their last five games on 51.0 percent shooting from the field and 51.8 percent from 3-point range.
The Warriors have been a completely different team with Curry this season. Whereas they've outscored opponents by 13.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the court, they've been outscored by 0.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the bench.
The Warriors basically go from being an average team on both ends of the court to an elite one when Curry is healthy.
It doesn't help that Curry has a history of torching the Raptors in a way no player in NBA history can match.
Green has also returned from injury since the Raptors last saw the Warriors. In his first game since mid-November, Green flirted with a triple double (seven points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) to help Golden State win its fourth game in a row.
That means the defending champions are back at full strength for the first time since Nov. 5. Golden State is 11-1 this season in games with Curry, Green, Durant and Klay Thompson in the lineup, the only loss coming back in October against the Denver Nuggets.
The Raptors, meanwhile, have dealt with a couple of their own injuries over the last two weeks.
Kawhi Leonard missed Tuesday's blowout win against the LA Clippers with a hip injury and his status for Wednesday's game is still unknown. Following a 10-point, 12-rebound double-double against the Warriors, Kyle Lowry sat out his first game of the season on Dec. 1 with a back injury.
Lowry didn't look like the same player when he rejoined the Raptors two days later, but he broke out of his shooting slump against the Clippers with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field.
If Leonard isn't able to go against the Warriors, the Raptors will need more of the same from Lowry to have any chance of beating the Warriors.
They could also use another big performance from Pascal Siakam, who scored 26 points on 8-10 shooting in the first matchup. It will be interesting to see if Siakam can come close to matching that level of production with noted defensive ace Green back in the Warriors' lineup.
MORE: Is Siakam the next Draymond Green?
The Raptors got a boost out of Fred VanVleet on Tuesday as well. Starting in place of Leonard, VanVleet dished out a career-high 14 assists and tied his season-high with six rebounds.
VanVleet is now averaging 9.9 points and 4.8 assists per game as a starter this season compared to 7.2 points and 3.2 assists as a reserve.
Last Time They Played
Date: Nov. 29, 2018
Score: Raptors 131, Warriors 128 (box score)
Raptors: Kawhi Leonard - 37 points, eight rebounds, three assists
Warriors: Kevin Durant - 51 points, 11 rebounds, six assists