Toronto Raptors

Heat Check: Is there anything we can learn from tonight's matchup between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors?

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Raptors vs. Warriors (NBA Getty Images)

The Golden State Warriors will be without Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins when they take on the Toronto Raptors on Thursday, so is there anything we can learn from the game?

Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): It'll be a good test for Kawhi Leonard if nothing else.

While Leonard has been spectacular this season, we're yet to see him match up with another All-Star at his position. He missed Toronto's game against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks early in the season and he sat out their game against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers a week later.

Adding to the intrigue is Kevin Durant has been on fire for the Warriors lately with an average of 41.7 points in his last three games, including a 49-point showing against the Orlando Magic in his last outing. If Leonard can lead the Raptors to victory and have a hand in containing Durant on Thursday, it'll only fuel his MVP case moving forward.

Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): No.

I'm sorry, but a game without Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins means that we won't really learn much about how Toronto stacks up against Golden State.

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Sure Not Now

Will a potential duel between Durant and Leonard provide intrigue? Sure. Could Pascal Siakam open some eyes, especially Warriors fans who perhaps haven't followed the Raptors closely? Of course. Will the depth disparity between the two benches become painfully obvious? You bet.

But in terms of applicable lessons from a November game with so many key pieces sitting out that can be applied towards a potential June showdown, there's just not much that could happen in this game that will have any real carryover effect.

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): You could learn that the Warriors' depth, or lack thereof, could be the downfall of going for their third-straight title.

With Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins out, it's tough to really evaluate the outcome of this game as a benchmark for either team. Sure, it could show us what we already know about the Raptors - that they're a real title contender - or on the flip side, what we already know about the Warriors without Curry-Green-Cousins - that KD and Klay can score like crazy, so much so that they can beat even the best NBA teams in one game just by running up the numbers.

It's no question that a fully healthy Golden State team will likely return to their fifth-consecutive NBA Finals, but what if come May and June they still aren't fully healthy?

The past few seasons the Warriors have had seasoned veterans to call on when any of their key rotation guys go down, but that's not the case this year. They're asking young, fairly inexperienced players to fill roles of NBA superstars and tonight, versus one of the league's deepest teams, we could see that if that's what they're relying on in a seven-game series in the playoffs, things might not turn out how they have the past four years for them.

Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): It's just another regular season game at this point. We already know that right now the Raptors have a legit shot at making the Finals. We also know that right now the Warriors aren't who they'll eventually end up being by the time the playoffs start.

For those still sleeping on the Raptors, or refusing to realize that this isn't the same old Raptor team that's had great regular season success and failed to maximize potential in the playoffs, maybe they have something to learn watching this game? People who know, however, know that this is a far better Raptors team than in years past and that we shouldn't hold past playoff failures against them.

You should watch this game because regardless of who's playing or who's not playing, it's going to be a good game - not because it's going to teach you something about what may happen if these two teams happen to meet in June.

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