Following their OT win over the Magic at the O2 Arena in London, the Raps had the weekend off to recover from the time change and set their sights upon four home games in the next seven days.
Currently sitting at 25-15, the team remains at second in the East, and with three games against conference opponents they have a good chance to keep their standing and gain some ground on teams chasing them in the playoff bracket.
Let's take a look at the week.
January 18th vs. Brooklyn - Cutting Down the Nets
Tonight the dumpster-fire that is the Nets roll into town for an evening MLK Day affair. The last time these two teams met it was one of the ugliest games of the season, and you should expect more of the same tonight. Raptors should cruise.
January 20th vs. Boston - Amir's Return
Wednesday night will bring the Celtics to the ACC, a team that has hit a skid recently and is fighting and clawing to keep themselves in the playoff race. Kyle Lowry will need to exploit his matchup and be physical against dynamite scorer Isiah Thomas, and DeMar DeRozan will need to use all the tricks in his bag to score against Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley. It is also Amir Johnson's return to Toronto, so surely the Raps will have a tribute of some sorts in store. Johnson also didn't forget the NBA city where he became the player he is today, bringing back his loved "I Roll With Amir" fan event:
January 22nd vs. Miami - Turn Down the Heat
The Raptors last matchup with Miami produced a surprising result, as they won in South Beach for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. DeRozan was huge in that game scoring a game high 30 points and Terrence Ross added the bench scoring they needed. The X-factor in Friday night's game will be the Toronto bigs against Hassan Whiteside, who has been an absolute beast this season and is a threat to block double digit shots every night. Jonas Valanciunas and Bismack Biyombo will have to be at their best physically and mentally on the defensive end to stop Whiteside from taking over the game.
January 24th vs. Clippers - Keep the Success Going
Over the past two years the Raptors own a 3-0 record against the Clippers, and can earn a second consecutive season series sweep with a win on Sunday evening. Despite the absence of Blake Griffin, the Clippers have had a strong showing recently, albeit against weaker teams, as coach Doc Rivers has played with a variety of small ball lineups. The Raps match up well with the Clips at each position and a win would be a great way to end the "curse" of Paul Pierce in what could be his final game in Toronto.
I believe the Raptors should go 3-1 this week, beating the Nets without much trouble, dropping one to either the Heat or the Celtics while winning the other, and then finishing out the week with a victory over the Clippers on Sunday night.
What are your picks for the week?