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How Can The Raptors Beat Portland?

Portland is 33-13 on the season and has only lost 5 times at the Moda Center, so the 25-21 Toronto Raptors will be in tough after winning last night in Denver while the Trail Blazers had the last 3 days off.  Toronto has lost to Portland in their last 5 visits here.

These 2 teams met in November before the Raptors traded Rudy Gay to Sacramento and it was Gay who forced overtime with a buzzer-beating layup.  Gay had 30 points and 10 rebounds, DeMar DeRozan scored 29 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 19 points and 9 rebounds.  Portland won the game 118-110 behind big performances from LaMarcus Aldridge with 25 points and 11 rebounds, Damian Lillard with 25 points and 8 assists plus 24 points from Nicolas Batum.

This version of the Raptors is dramatically different than the team Portland faced in Toronto and it isn’t easy to know what to expect.  Since the Gay trade, the Raptors are 19-9 while the Trail Blazers are 16-9.

Recently, Portland has been on a bit of a slide, losing 4 of their past 6 games and Toronto has gone on a run, winning 5 of 6.  However, the Trail Blazers have beaten up on Eastern Conference teams all season, going 15-2 so far.  Their confidence will be high.

The 2 teams couldn’t be more different.

Toronto has developed into one of the better defensive teams in the NBA, scoring 99.3 points per game while holding their opponents to an NBA fourth best 96.5 points.  They pass and rebound well and at their best, they play a very disciplined game.

Portland, on the other hand, is the highest scoring team in the NBA at 108.4 points per game.  They rebound very well and have made the second most three-pointers in the league.  If their shots are falling, the Trail Blazers can beat anyone.  On the other end of the court, Portland is 27th in opponent’s scoring, giving up 103.4 points per game.  They have given up the most two-point attempts in the league and their opponent’s shoot for a higher field goal percentage on average.  It’s all about the long ball in Portland.

There is really only one way to win in Portland this season.  The Raptors must defend the three-point line and their own offense had better not take the night off.  The last time these 2 teams met, the Trail Blazers were 15-32 from beyond the arc and if they can repeat that performance, the Raptors will have little chance of escaping Portland with a victory.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
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