As snow blows around Toronto -- on this, the day of the Santa Claus Parade -- there are probably worse places to be than Sacramento. For the Raptors, getting up for game two of a five game road trip that sees them visit Los Angeles and Houston next before tipping back up north to Milwaukee, it could even be considered a reprieve. Who needs the cold anyway?
But, still, the old belief holds: long road trips are hell for professional sports teams, warm weather or no. The Raptors began this particular journey with a scary overtime win in the high mountains of Denver against the Nuggets. It was a win that saw leads come and go, referee's calls switch back and forth, and play go from beautiful to ugly in a heartbeat. That it ended with a Terrence Ross go-ahead three was perhaps fitting.
I digress. The Kings are still a mess. They've lost four in a row. They are 4-9. They still have a roster that makes no sense. And they still have madman Vivek Ranadive looming over all these proceedings and wondering what went wrong. (Spoiler alert: it's you, buddy, you're the problem.) The lone bright light shining in the darkness is DeMarcus Cousins who, through 13 games, is averaging 27.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.2 steals and a block. He's a problem for the Raptors (and he's not a Raptor... yet).
We should have all the usual Raptors on hand again, with Lucas Nogueira back in the fold after tending to his wife and new baby daughter. Which means this game will once again come down to some combination of Jonas Valanciunas, Bebe (and perhaps Jakob Poeltl) stopping the rampage of Boogie. The rest of the game can play out exactly as the last meeting against these two teams (though it would be nice for DeMar DeRozan, scoring leader, to not have an off-night as he did last time). The difference will be in the middle.
Now read up on the preview here from Harsh Dave and then, as always, let's watch.