After enduring a brutal mid-November stretch, the Toronto Raptors are starting to look like their normal selves again and are riding a three-game winning streak into tonight’s home contest with the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies (11-7) started the campaign with a mediocre 4-5 record before rattling off six straight victories. Memphis followed that up by dropping two of their last three ahead of tonight’s game.
As is seemingly always the case for this team, the injury bug has bitten them once again. The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that starting point guard Mike Conley suffered a transverse process fracture in the vertebrae, meaning he’ll be out for an indefinite period of time. In terms of severity, that’s the same injury Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton suffered in a 2014 car accident.
Here are three things to watch out for in tonight’s tilt:
The absence of Z-Bo
Last week, Zach Randolph’s mother passed away and he was given an indefinite leave from the team. Even at 35, Randolph is still one of the most important players to his team in the NBA as his ability to stretch the floor on both offense and defense is invaluable to the Grizz.
In Randolph’s place, JaMychal Green has been given an increase in minutes. Green has done a decent job, compiling 28 points and 18 rebounds in three games, but he’s no Z-Bo. Memphis will be in tough to fill the void left by Randolph and Conley if the former doesn’t make the trip north of the border.
Hey, the 3-pointer is back!
Toronto perennially ranks as one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the Association, but the shot was non-existent through the first nine games of the season. Toronto was ranked second-last in the NBA in 3-point percentage (29 percent) and third-last in 3-point makes per game in that span.
But since then, the Dinos have erupted from long-range to rank sixth in the league at 37 percent. Paced by DeMarre Caroll, Cory Joseph and Patrick Patterson, Toronto is shooting an NBA-best 45.1 percent from downtown over their last eight games.
Marc Gasol: 3-point extraordinaire
Speaking of the three ball, Toronto will have to be wary of Spanish big man Marc Gasol. Gasol has always been an elite player in the paint, but he’s showcased a new talent in 2016-17. The 31-year-old only hit 12 career threes in his first eight seasons but he’s already connected on 23 this year, including a game-winner against the Los Angeles Clippers on November 16.
Where to watch: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One