The Raptors, despite a handful of games missed by Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll, sit at 28-15 on the season and now only 2.5 games back of the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the East. In the midst of a 7-game win-streak, the first since 2002, the Raptors have a chance to continue building a cushion between themselves and the rest of the playoff teams as the schedule eases up.
The Clippers, similarly, have played their best basketball in the aftermath of Blake Griffin's injury and also sit at 28-15. Riding a streak of 12 wins in 14 games, the Clips will undoubtedly provide the Raptors with their sternest test in recent times. Having bizarrely just traded Josh Smith back to the Rockets, the Clippers' depth will be tested by red-hot Raptor team.
Things to Look For
Chris Paul vs. Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry's ascendance to All Star quality has been well documented. Chris Paul, on the other hand, has continued his usual brilliance in keeping the Clippers afloat in Griffin's absence. This matchup will likely play a huge part in determining who walks out of the Air Canada Centre with a W tonight. Over his last 5 games, Paul's been averaging a stellar 20 points, 10 assists, and shooting 60% from 3. The Raptors will likely need an all-around performance from Kyle Lowry in order to negate the Chris Paul Effect.
The Raptors blow hot and cold when it comes to three-point shooting defence. One of the disturbing themes in the win over the Boston Celtics was the abject performance in guarding the perimeter. The Celtics, despite being the 5th worst team in 3FG%, managed to connect on 12 of them. The Clippers will offer no respite on that front, as they are the 5th best team in the same category. With Tattooed JJ Redick finding a new gear as he enters his 30s and Raptor-killer Paul Pierce in the starting lineup, the Raptors will have to be ultra diligent to keep them off the scoreboard from deep.
Sunday Game Effect
The Raptors tend to enjoy Sunday home games more than most of their opponents since their opponents are sometimes out enjoying White Vegas on Saturdays. Naturally, the effect was much more pronounced when the games took place at 12:30 or 1 PM, as opposed to tonight's 6 PM affair, but still, let's hope the Clippers are feeling oddly sluggish at game time.
How to Watch: 6 PM, TSN1, TSN4