While most of the basketball viewing public is fixated on the 23-0 Golden State Warriors, the San Antonio Spurs -- arguably the best team of the last decade and a half and a dynasty in every sense of the word -- are quietly having one of the best starts in their franchise's storied history. With a record of 18-4 and riding a four-game win streak, those very same Spurs roll into the ACC tonight to take on the Raptors.
This will be the fourth game of Toronto's six-game homestand and their first tilt with San Antonio this season. The Spurs have a commanding 28-10 lead in the all-time series and the Raptors have only managed one win against them in the last six seasons. To put it lightly, this'll be a tough one.
Now that Kobe's retirement train has left the station, coverage will shift back to the home team for this one and a lot of the focus is likely to fall on former Spur, Cory Joseph. CoJo spent the first four years of his career in San Antonio and this will be the first chance he gets to face his old team.
If they loved him half as much as we do, I'm sure they'll be all emotional to see him. You can bet there will be at least one funny, affectionate, and/or dismissive quote from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich about Joseph and we'll all have a good laugh about it. Book it.
Things to Watch For:
1. Cory Joseph's revenge game
In 22 games as a Raptor, Cory Joseph is posting career-highs across the board with averages of 9.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.8 steals, and a mere 1.1 turnovers in 26.3 minutes per game, while shooting 50.3 percent from the field.
He spent the majority of his time with the Spurs as a third-string point guard, backing up Tony Parker and either Gary Neal or Patty Mills. It'll be very interesting to see how the various Spurs greet and treat him in this one, especially in instances when he gets to go head-to-head with Parker, his mentor.
2. The injury report
The Raptors' injury report is getting downright depressing. Jonas Valanciunas is out until January with a broken hand, DeMarre Carroll is out indefinitely with a knee contusion, and the up-and-coming Lucas "Bebe" Nogueira has a bum ankle and missed Monday's game against the Warriors. That's two-fifths of the starting lineup in JV and Carroll, and 100 percent of our interesting haircuts in Carroll and Bebe (might need James Johnson to bring back the red hair). Developments in the limited rotation will once again be something to monitor, especially if Nogueira misses another one.
On the other side of the floor, the Spurs are coming off a game in which they rested Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili (and still beat the Sixers by 51 points), so they should be all systems go for tonight. That is, of course, with the exception of budding superstar Kawhi Leonard, who missed Monday's game with a stomach bug and is listed as questionable for tonight. The Raptors could catch a break there. Then again, it's the Spurs and they can still beat you with the likes of Kyle Anderson, Jonathon Simmons, and Boban Marjanovic.
3. Home cooking
The Raptors are only 5-4 at the ACC this season and stand at 1-2 on their current homestand. After watching the crowd fill with Laker fans that spent the majority of their energy cheering for Kobe in the last game, it'll be nice to see if the team can regain some kind of homecourt advantage tonight. The Raps managed to hang with the Warriors on Saturday, so logically they should be able to hang with the Spurs tonight. Right?
Where to Watch: TSNN, 7:30 PM EST