The Portland Trail Blazers ended their road trip Sunday evening with a pretty discouraging 124-95 loss to the Denver Nuggets. While the Blazers were without Damian Lillard, no one should fool themselves into thinking that missing their superstar was the reason they lost. The Blazers never really looked like competing, and Coach Billups wasn’t happy about it.
The Toronto Raptors are having a strange season, only losing once on the road while posting a record of 2-6 at home. Perhaps it’s unlucky for the Blazers that this game will be at Moda Center. On Saturday, the Raptors fell by a score of 127-121 against the Detroit Pistons in Toronto.
Monday, November 15 – 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: ROOT Sports, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (day-to-day), Greg Brown III (day-to-day)
Raptors injuries: Yuta Watanabe (out), Precious Achiuwa (day-to-day), Chris Boucher (day-to-day), Fred VanVleet (day-to-day)
SBN Affiliate: Raptors HQ
What To Watch For
- Stingy defense from Toronto. The Raptors give up 104.3 points per game, good for 10th best in the NBA. On the road, however, they are giving up an NBA-best 99 points per game. The careful reader will note that the Raptors will be on the road against the Blazers. It seems unlikely that the Blazers will win a defensive struggle, so Portland really needs to make that 99 point average go up. How? Read on…
- Good shooting from deep. Portland has shot above 38% from three exactly four times. They won all four games. They’ve shot below 38% from beyond the arc 10 times. The Blazers lost eight of those games. The only exceptions are the games against two teams that played the Blazers exceptionally badly: the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets. While it is kind of a no-brainer that shooting threes well leads to success, the point here is that shooting well from three is really the only way this team is currently able to beat anyone except for the bottom of the barrel.
- Effort. An NBA season is grueling. Really good teams come out flat sometimes, and great players have had the odd game when they look like they would rather be anywhere other than the court. It happens. At some point though the really good team just says that they need to get it together and not let it happen any more. The great player shakes it off and goes out and gets it done. After the loss in Denver, it’s fair to ask if this team wants to make a stand and not let it happen. Likewise, certain players need to shake it off and just take care of business. We’ll see.
What Others Are Saying
Ryan Grosman of Raptors HQ writes that Pascal Siakam isn’t going anywhere.
Some two months back, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that “Pascal Siakam doesn’t want to go anywhere — and likely won’t.” To which I immediately replied, No duh.
That’s because he never thought about leaving in the first place. Just as the Toronto Raptors likely never thought about trading him. It was just the NBA media and ever-dangerous Twitterverse creating news and controversy where there was none. Chaos gets clicks, after all.
So far these Raptors have been road warriors according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.
One of the great incongruities of this iteration of the team is that the Raptors have played far better on the road than they have at home, and a six-game trip that begins here Monday night does not look as daunting as it could.
Toronto is 5-1 away from home this season and just 2-6 at the Scotiabank Arena, a statistical oddity that flies in the face of conventional NBA wisdom that suggests home teams fare far better than visitors.
Nick Nurse squats. A whole bunch. Yaron Weitzman of Fox Sports dives into the squatting and much more about the Raptors’ head coach.
If you’ve watched the Raptors, you have no doubt noticed Nurse assuming this position. It doesn’t matter if his team is on offense or defense, flying up the court or standing around waiting for a free throw. It doesn’t matter if Nurse is wearing a suit or sweats. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first moments of a lifeless November tilt or the final seconds of an exhilarating Game 7.