Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Records: Raptors (50-21), Thunder (42-29)
Where to Watch
Date: Wednesday, March 20
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Radio: TSN 1050 Toronto
Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Wednesday night, the Raptors and Thunder square off in the first end of a unique interconference home-and-home that concludes when Oklahoma City travels to Scotiabank Arena on Friday.
Having dropped three straight games, the Thunder are now just a half-game ahead of the eighth-seeded Clippers in a tight Western Conference playoff race. Conversely, OKC trails Portland by just 1.5 games for the No. 4 seed, and must quickly turn things around in order to have a shot at home court advantage in the opening round of the postseason.
MORE: Updated Playoff Picture
The Thunder are coming off of a nine-point home loss to the Heat on Monday in which Russell Westbrook was forced to sit out. OKC's All-Star guard was serving a one-game suspension after he received his 16th technical foul of the season in the team's loss to Golden State last Saturday.
In Westbrook's absence, All-Star Paul George led the way with 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists while Jerami Grant recorded a 27-point, 10-rebound double-double. Both George (28.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 4.2 apg) and Grant (13.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.0 apg) are having the best statistical seasons of their respective careers.
With Westbrook returning to the lineup, Dennis Schröder, who is averaging 15.4 points per game this season, heads back to the second unit.
For Toronto, big man Serge Ibaka returns to face his former team after serving a three-game suspension for his role in an altercation in the Raptors loss to the Cavs last week. All signs also indicate that All-Star Kawhi Leonard will return to the lineup after missing Monday's big win over the Knicks.
While Ibaka and Leonard are set to return, Kyle Lowry will be out after spraining his right ankle Monday night.
MORE: Lowry addresses injury | Mitchell Robinson responds
Fortunately for Toronto, it's Fred VanVleet's third game back in the lineup after missing 12 games with a thumb injury. VanVleet hasn't missed a beat yet - he's averaging 15.0 points and 8.0 assists while shooting 57.8 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from deep since returning.
Oklahoma City has won the last three meetings between the two teams; the Raptors' last win over the Thunder came on Nov. 9, 2016. Toronto's last road win over OKC came in Nov. 2015.
The Raptors are 20-7 (.741) against the Western Conference this season - the best record in the NBA. Toronto's 20 wins vs. the West are a single-season franchise record, surpassing last year's total of 19 victories.
The Thunder are 17-8 against opponents from the Eastern Conference this season, but two of their three consecutive losses have come to the Heat and Pacers.
Russell Westbrook, who has career averages of 22.2 points, 9.2 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game against Toronto, has an all-time record of 12-6 against the Raptors. OKC is 4-0 all-time against Toronto when Westbrook records a triple-double.
This will mark the 30th time that the Raptors have played the same opponent in consecutive games in franchise history. Toronto has won both games seven times, lost both games nine times and split the games 13 times.
The Thunder are 23-11 at Chesapeake Energy Arena this season while the Raptors are 21-14 on the road.
Last Time They Played
Date: March 18, 2018
Score: Thunder 132, Raptors 125
Raptors: Kyle Lowry - 22 points (7-for-10 FG), 10 assists
Thunder: Russell Westbrook - 37 points (15-for-22 FG), 14 assists, 13 rebounds