Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Records: Raptors (22-10), Thunder (16-15)
Where to Watch
Date: Dec. 29, 2019
Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
On the heels of an impressive victory Saturday night in Boston, the Raptors are right back in action as they host the Thunder Sunday evening.
MORE: How have the Raptors fared in back-to-backs this year?
It's the fifth game in eight days for the short-handed Raptors, who will again be without key contributors in Marc Gasol, Norman Powell and Pascal Siakam. In their absence, Kyle Lowry has raised his game to another level, as he most recently exploded for 30 points (on 10-for-17 shooting), seven assists and four rebounds against the Celtics.
After Lowry, Serge Ibaka came up big in Toronto's win over Boston with a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double and Patrick McCaw turned in a major performance with 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, doing a little bit of everything against a tough opponent.
MORE: 8 thoughts from Raptors big win in Boston
The problem? Nick Nurse being forced to bring reserves into the starting lineup can have an effect on bench production; the reserves scored just 20 of the team's 113 points in Boston.
Now, the Raptors return home to face the Thunder, who boast one of the league's top second units, although the bench will be without its standout performer in Dennis Schröder, who joins starter Danilo Gallinari on the inactive list.
Still, the Thunder's backcourt of Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is difficult enough to deal with.
OKC is one of just two teams that weren't in action on Saturday, meaning they should be well-rested after earning a gritty overtime win in Charlotte on Friday. In that one, Gilgeous-Alexander led all scorers with 27 points (on 10-for-17 shooting) while Paul added 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
🎥 The best plays from last night's OT win against the Hornets. pic.twitter.com/woTDU4Yhv7- OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) December 28, 2019
The duo calmly maintained control of the game as they seemingly took turns making big plays during crunch time.
In his second NBA season, Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging a team-high 19.4 points per game while Paul is averaging 16.3 points and 6.5 assists in his 15th NBA season. CP3 also leads the league in total points scored during clutch time this season, so you know the ball will be in one of their guard's hands should this one come down to the wire.
On the inside, Steven Adams has held his own and then some this season despite a multitude of changes around him. Through 28 games, the centre is averaging 11.7 points and 9.8 rebounds and has recorded 11 double-doubles.
The interior battle between Adams and Ibaka will certainly be one to keep an eye on - there's plenty of familiarity there as the two were teammates in Oklahoma City for three seasons.
Can the short-handed Raptors outlast the short-handed Thunder on the second night of a back-to-back?
- Marc Gasol (hamstring) - Out
- Norman Powell (shoulder) - Out
- Pascal Siakam (groin) - Out
- Matt Thomas (finger) - Out
- Hamidou Diallo (elbow) - Out
- Danilo Gallinari (ankle) - Out
- Andre Roberson (knee) - Out
- Dennis Schröder (ankle) - Out
- Serge Ibaka spent the first seven seasons (524 games) of his career as a member of the Thunder.
- OKC's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a native of Hamilton, ON while Luguentz Dort hails from Montreal, QC.
- Thunder forwards Deonte Burton and Abdel Nader played with Raptors guard Matt Thomas at Iowa State University.
Last Time They Played
Date: March 22, 2019
Score: Thunder 116, Raptors 109
Thunder: Dennis Schröder - 26 points (10-16 FG), 7 assists, 6 rebounds
Raptors: Kawhi Leonard - 37 points (12-23 FG), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 8 turnovers