The 16-6 Toronto Raptors are 3 wins and 3 losses in games since their All-Star DeMar DeRozan was lost to a groin injury two weeks ago. However, they are about to get an early Christmas present from the NBA schedule makers over the next 10 days.
On Friday the Raptors are at home to the injury ravaged 7-15 Indiana Pacers. The Pacers leading scorer is Rodney Stuckey at 12.7 points per game. Indiana has to work to score their 93.5 points per game average and their once feared defense has been giving up over 100 points with regularity. The Pacers have lost 6 games in a row.
On Sunday Toronto travels to New York to face the 4-20 Knicks. On a 10 game losing streak, the Knicks have lost the most games in the Association. Carmelo Anthony has a sore knee and is questionable. J.R. Smith has a sore heel and the Knicks are in a general state of complete disarray.
The Raptors return home to play the 9-15 Magic on Monday. Toronto has beaten this team at home and on the road already this season. Orlando is probably the toughest opponent the Raptors will face in this stretch of games.
As of Thursday night, the 8-12 Brooklyn Nets hold down 8th place in the East, however, the Nets have lost 3 in a row including a thrashing by the Hawks – a team the Raptors have beaten up on twice this season already. With the breaking news about every player on the Nets roster being up for grabs, this opponent is not likely to be thinking a lot about what’s happening on the court. The Nets visit Toronto on Wednesday. Maybe one of them doesn’t have to leave after the game?
Toronto visits Detroit on Friday to face the 3-19 Pistons who are presently riding a 13 game slide into oblivion. Maybe the Pistons can win a game by the time they play Toronto, but since they face 4 Western Conference teams first, it doesn’t seem likely.
The last gift from the NBA schedule makers is a return trip by the Knicks to Toronto on Sunday December 21. The Knicks feature former Raptors Jose Calderon, Quincy Acy and Andrea Bargnani. It is worth the trip to the Air Canada Centre to see them even if Bargnani is likely to be wearing a suit.
The current combined record of the Raptors next 6 opponents is 35 wins and 101 loses. That should translate into 6 wins in a row for Toronto. Merry Christmas.
“For me personally it is way better to play against a typical center, a big guy who is in the paint wrestling because I do the same thing, for me (that) is much easier,” Valanciunas said. “It’s tough. It’s tough. I am not used to going (out to) the three-point line and cover stretch big guys who can really shoot the ball. I just don’t like that. I am not fast enough.”