Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Denver Nuggets
Records: Raptors (23-8); Nuggets (19-9)
Where to Watch
Date: Sunday, Dec. 16
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: TSN 2
Radio: TSN Radio 1050
Location: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
After a close loss to the Trail Blazers Friday night, the Raptors conclude their four-game Western Conference road trip when they visit the Denver Nuggets Sunday.
It is the second meeting between the two teams in as many weeks; on Monday, Dec. 3, Denver earned a 126-123 win over Toronto at Scotiabank Arena, snapping the Raptors' eight-game win streak.
Toronto, who is 3-3 since having its streak snapped, looks to split the season series with Denver and remain atop the Eastern Conference standings. Despite being bitten hard by the injury bug, the Nuggets are still first in the Western Conference by virtue of a tiebreaker with the Golden State Warriors.
While Michael Porter Jr., Isaiah Thomas, and Jarred Vanderbilt have yet to suit up this season, Denver has dealt with relatively serious injuries to starters Will Barton, Gary Harris and Paul Millsap. This past week, the Nuggets used an injury hardship exception to sign veteran wing Nick Young, who didn't waste any time proving his value as he hit two big 3-pointers in Denver's win over OKC Friday.
It's been a 'next man up' mentality for the Nuggets, who have benefitted from contributions across the board in the absence of three starters. On Friday, Nikola Jokic led the way with 24 points,15 rebounds and nine assists while Canadian Jamal Murray (19 points), Juancho Hernangomez (16 points), Torrey Craig (15 points), and Monte Morris (14 points) each scored in double figures as well.
Denver will look to continue to make use of its depth Sunday night in order to earn a win over Toronto, who is dealing with a number of injuries as well.
According to Sportsnet's Michael Grange, Raptors starters Kyle Lowry (thigh) and Pascal Siakam (back) are both listed as out Sunday night. Fred VanVleet, who would have likely been Lowry's replacement at point guard is listed as doubtful with a back injury as well. With Jonas Valancinas (thumb) and Norman Powell (shoulder) out for significant time, Toronto will be down five important players to close the trip.
The Raptors will need reserve guard Delon Wright, who is averaging 5.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest to step up, as he is the likely candidate to start at point guard. If Wright gets the start, it would be just the sixth start in his four-year NBA career. In Toronto's first meeting with Denver, Wright scored nine points, grabbed three rebounds, dished out two assists and recorded two steals in 15 minutes of action.
With the team's depleted frontcourt depth, Greg Monroe and two-way player Chris Boucher will be looked upon to contribute tonight. Boucher, who was called up from Toronto's G League affiliate, Raptors 905, has been on an absolute tear in G League action; the Raptors will need some of his production to translate to the NBA game.
Ultimately, Toronto will lean most heavily on star forward Kawhi Leonard, who finished with 28 points, six rebounds and four assists in the team's loss to Portland Friday. Leonard, who missed the first two games of the trip, put forth an inspiring performance in the second half of the loss. Should his play from the final two quarters Friday carry over to Sunday night, the Raptors will have a good chance of finishing the road trip with a record of 3-1.
Last Time They Played
Date: Dec. 3, 2018
Score: Nuggets 106, Raptors 103 (Box Score)
Raptors: Kawhi Leonard - 27 points, eight rebounds, two assists
Nuggets: Nikola Jokic - 23 points, 15 assists, 11 rebounds