Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Where to Watch
Date: Sunday, July 26
Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
TV: Sportsnet (Canada), NBA TV (United States)
Location: VISA Athletic Center, Orlando, FL
Four Key Questions
Will we see more OG post-ups?
As our Scott Rafferty pointed out, the Raptors went to OG Anunoby in the post a couple of times against the Houston Rockets on Friday.
As Rafferty said: According to NBA.com, Anunoby has a total of 28 post-up possessions this season and his numbers of 0.61 points per possession have him ranked in the 8th percentile in scoring efficiency - which isn't good at all.
The bright side, however, is Nurse's willingness to find different ways to use OG on offence. Anunoby's size and strength give him an advantage over most defenders and if he can be effective on the block it will take some pressure off the ball handlers to create every time down the court. Be patient, OG isn't going to become Hakeem Olajuwon on the block overnight, but with live reps maybe he can create some scoring opportunities in the future.
PostG Anunoby, here we come!
How will skinny Marc look?
Gasol sat out against the Rockets on Friday. Nurse decided to keep him out of the lineup because Houston's small-ball lineup just wasn't a great matchup for him.
MORE: Why Gasol didn't play in scrimmage win over Rockets
He'll play against Portland, who have a much more traditional lineup.
Gasol has featured in one game since January 29 - he played 15 minutes off the bench in Toronto's win at Sacramento in early March. That's a long time without basketball when you include the season's hiatus.
We know Gasol has slimmed down considerably since the pause in the season, but basketball shape is a different beast. Nurse has said conditioning is a key focus before the restart of the season, so it will be interesting to see how much he plays Gasol against the Blazers.
Will the ball movement continue?
The Raptors had the rock humming all over the court on Friday. They finished the game with 25 assists, which is right on par with their season average of 25.4.
The assists total is usually one of the best barometers for how the Raptors played - when they share the rock they win more times than not. In wins this season, Toronto is averaging 26.4 dimes per game. In losses, that number drops to 22.8.
We know that Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet are responsible for much of the Raptors' playmaking but if they can get the odd play here and there from guys like Matt Thomas, it will go a long way come playoff time.
Matt Thomas dimes Chris Boucher for the MASSIVE slam 💥 all the Raptors are getting involved tonight! pic.twitter.com/lMkwGVqO14- TSN (@TSN_Sports) July 25, 2020
Can VanVleet lock Lillard up again?
VanVleet missed the second meeting between the Trail Blazers and Raptors but in the first matchup he locked Damian Lillard up.
According to NBA Stats, VanVleet guarded the All-Star for 27.1 partial possessions and held Lillard scoreless, going 0-for-6 from the field. The game was by far the worst of the season for Lillard as he finished with just nine points on 2-for-12 shooting.
Lillard is one of the best offensive weapons in the game in my opinion. For VanVleet to give him as much trouble as he did earlier this season shouldn't go unnoticed.
It's unlikely that VanVleet gets any love for All-Defence this year. I've written that Kyle Lowry should make All-Defence this season, but VanVleet has put up efforts worthy of praise.
Sunday is a scrimmage no one will go crazy on what VanVleet is able to do against Lillard should they matchup, but it's something to keep an eye on as Fred continues to build the equity needed to earn All-Defensive nods in the future.
Injury reports will be made available closer to July 26
- Damian Lillard is the NBA's fifth-leading scorer this season with 28.9 points per game.
- Jusuf Nurkic made his season debut in Portland's first scrimmage earlier this week. In 20 minutes, he scored 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
- The Blazers had the league's 10th-best offence while ranking 27th in defensive efficiency prior to the season being suspended.
- The Blazers currently trail the Memphis Grizzlies by 3.5 games in the Western Conference standings. FiveThirtyEight gives Portland a 12% chance of making the playoffs.
Last Time They Played
Date: Jan. 7, 2020
Score: Blazers 101, Raptors 99
Blazers: Carmelo Anthony - 28 PTS, 7 REB, 2 STL
Raptors: Kyle Lowry - 24 PTS, 10 AST, 4 REB
|1||x - Milwaukee Bucks||53-12||-||1||x -Los Angeles Lakers||49-14||-|
|2||x - Toronto Raptors||46-18||6.5||2||x - LA Clippers||44-20||5.5|
|3||x - Boston Celtics||43-21||9.5||3||x -Denver Nuggets||43-22||7|
|4||x - Miami Heat||41-24||12||4||x - Utah Jazz||41-23||8.5|
|5||x - Indiana Pacers||39-26||14||5||x - Oklahoma City Thunder||40-24||9.5|
|6||x - Philadelphia 76ers||39-26||14||6||x - Houston Rockets||40-24||9.5|
|7||Brooklyn Nets||30-34||22.5||7||Dallas Mavericks||40-27||11|
|8||Orlando Magic||30-35||23||8||Memphis Grizzlies||32-33||18|
x - Clinched Playoffs Berth
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