The Toronto Raptors look to follow up their surprising win in Dallas with another victory in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the league's best teams and are the only one with a perfect home record. Getting a win in a notoriously difficult arena is going to be a big task, but this Raptors team has shown a capacity to surprise even the most stern optimists.
Here are three keys to a Toronto win and yet another day of gloom for supporters of 'tank nation'.
1) Gotta be KD: Kevin Durant is in MVP form, and he’s scored 30 points or more a league-high 13 times this season. Durant has somehow elevated his game to another level, setting a career high in free throws attempted per game. Since trading Rudy Gay, the Raptors have started DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross. Neither are lengthy enough to contend with Durant’s ridiculous wingspan, and there might be some extended Landry Fields sightings this evening.The Spurs tried to stick Marco Belinelli and Danny Green on him last night and saw little success as Durant's mere presence opened up scoring opportunities for his teammates. Which brings us to the next point...
2) Bench Mob: Yes, James Harden was a terrific bench player; a luxurious sixth man to have, for sure. But the Thunder's current bench is arguably the best it's ever been. Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson, Nick Collison and the surprising Steven Adams. Lamb is the pick of the bunch, however, and the shooting guard has really elevated his game this season. The former UCONN standout is shooting above 50% from the floor and above 40% from deep. Leave him open at your peril.
3) Ball Movement: The Raptors' isolation-happy offence was well documented earlier in the season and I won't bring back repressed memories by talking about it too much. That being said, the team's ball movement has noticeably increased in the last few games. A certain Kyle Lowry has been central to that change. As Adam pointed out yesterday, he's looking more and more like the player Byran Colangelo thought he was trading for, finishing with a tidy line of 20 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds against Dallas. His decision making has noticeably improved and he no longer seems torn between shooting and passing. Things aren't being force; ball movement is slowly becoming organic. More of the same tonight, please.