The Toronto Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers face off at the Moda Center in Portland on Wednesday. The Blazers are reeling off a Tuesday night loss to the Kings and have lost five of their last six games. The Raptors are coming off a Monday night loss to the Clippers but have won three of their last four.
These two teams have had polar opposite starts to the season as the Raptors are 7-3, currently in a four-way tie for second place in the Eastern Conference. The Blazers are 4-7 and sit at 11th in the West. Heading into Wednesday night, one team will look to keep its momentum going, while the other looks to build some of its own.
The Blazers are favored by three points in the duel, with the over/under set at 221.
Defending The Title
The Raptors are coming off a season in which they won their first NBA Championship in franchise history. Much has changed since then, primarily the departure of Kawhi Leonard, but that hasn’t stopped the Raptors from getting off to a hot start to this season. They are 3-3 on the road this season and 3-2-1 on the road against the spread.
Led in scoring by 6-9 power forward Pascal Siakam, who’s averaging over 26 points per game, the Raptors sit in the middle of the NBA offensively, ranking 15th in the league in scoring. They have the third-highest three-point percentage in the league, led by Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, and OG Anunoby. While all three are shooting well from deep, Anunoby is shooting an elite 52 percent from beyond the arc.
Defensively is where the Raptors have stepped it up against teams this year. Opponents are shooting only 40 percent from the field against the Raptors, which ranks No. 1 in the NBA. Toronto is allowing only 106.7 per game, good for eighth in the league. The Raptors try not to let opponents shoot from beyond the arc or get to the free-throw line, and they do well in both.
The Blazers didn’t come out of the gates scorching as their opponent did. They sit at 4-7 overall and have been dominated, primarily on the defensive end, all season, as they rank 28th in the league in points allowed. They are only 1-3 at home both overall and against the spread. Fortunately for them, they do have the talent to rebound and save their season.
The Blazers’ returning guards, CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard, have played like they typically do. McCollum is averaging 20.2 points per game, but he’s only shooting 40 percent from the field this season. Lillard is putting up 32.5 per game while maintaining a high percentage from the field and from 3, at 50 and 40 percent, respectively.
Rodney Hood and Hassan Whiteside were supposed to help the Blazers both offensively and defensively, and they are waiting for the duo to start paying dividends. Whiteside is third on the team in scoring and leads the team in both rebounds and blocks. Hood is putting up over 10 points and four boards per game. The Blazers would certainly like to see more from Hood moving forward.
A Topsy-Turvy Line
The Blazers need to improve their play at home, and everywhere else for that matter, to get back on track. They have a talented enough roster to keep any opponent within striking distance, and, with the elite scoring ability of Lillard, I believe we will see the real Blazers soon enough.
Will we see them in this one, though? The Raptors are pretty good defensively, and the Blazers’ loss to the Kings Tuesday night didn’t inspire much hope that they would suddenly get it together against the Raptors.
Oddly, the Blazers are favored by three points in this contest. They haven’t played well enough at home to be favored at all, in my opinion. The pick here is the Raptors, and they cover without any issues.