Thursday night features a battle of East versus West as the Toronto Raptors (26-36) take on the Denver Nuggets (41-21). The Nuggets will host this one at Ball Arena with tip-off scheduled for 9 pm ET.
Toronto is coming off a 116-103 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. In the loss, Kyle Lowry led the team with 24 points, while Khem Birch added a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. The Raptors will look to bounce back against the Nuggets Thursday.
Speaking of Denver, this will be the second game of a back-to-back for it. On Wednesday, the Nuggets slid past the New Orleans Pelicans, 114-112.
In the win, Nikola Jokic led all scorers with 32 points while also adding seven rebounds and eight assists. Facundo Campazzo had a double-double with 19 points and 10 assists.
Denver is the favorite in this one playing at home. The Nuggets are -194 to win, while the Raptors’ moneyline sits at +162. The spread features Toronto +4.5.
By The Numbers
Offensively, Denver has been one of the best teams in the NBA this season. The Nuggets currently rank fourth in scoring, averaging 115.5 points per game. The Raptors are 18th, averaging 111.7 (106 over their last three games).
Defensively, it is once again Denver with the edge. The Nuggets rank ninth in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 110.2 points per game. The Raptors rank 15th, allowing 111.1 points.
Raptors Trying To Claw Into Playoff Spot
If the regular season ended today, the Raptors would be on the outside looking in. Currently 12th in the Eastern Conference with 10 games to play, they sit two games behind the Wizards for 10th, the last of the play-in spots.
While time is running out, the Raptors are still hoping to make a run and are led by a trio of stars in Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Lowry.
Siakam is currently leading the team in scoring, averaging 20.9 points per game on 45% shooting. He is also averaging 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.
VanVleet and Lowry have also performed well. VanVleet is averaging 19.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists. Not to be outdone, Lowry is adding 16.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game.
Denver Looking To Climb In The West
The Nuggets currently sit in fourth in the Western Conference. While the Nuggets are not worried about the fifth seed (the Lakers are currently five games behind them in the standings), they would love to make a run at improving their positioning.
Currently, the Nuggets sit 3.5 games out from the first-place Utah Jazz, but they are only a single game behind the LA Clippers for third. With every game being crucial, they will look to improve on their 23-10 home record.
Leading the way for the Nuggets is Jokic, who has been remarkable this season, averaging 26.3 points on 56.8% shooting. To go along with the scoring, he is averaging 10.9 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
With Jamal Murray out for the season, others like Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon have needed to step up. Porter is currently averaging 18.7 points and 7.6 rebounds, while Gordon is averaging 13.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
Taking Denver On The Moneyline
There are factors pulling both sides of the equation on this one. While the Raptors come into this one fresh, the Nuggets are playing their second game in as many days. This deep into the season, that can be monumental.
Still, the Nuggets have been hot as of late, winning three in a row, and the Raptors will be hard-pressed to stop them. Take the Nuggets at -194