A disappointing loss in Motown was a sour note on the weekend that saw Kyle Lowry give us one of the most memorable performances by a Raptor of all time. The team returns home this week to face the three teams in a constant shuffle for the 6-8 seeds in the West playoff race.
The Jazz are constantly up and down, but with improved point guard play from recently acquired Shelvin Mack and the full stable of bigs back have played better. The Rockets are a dumpster fire who's only saving grace is James Harden scoring 30 points a night and the Trail Blazers have been one of the hottest teams in the league of late, on the back of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
Toronto is only two games back of Cavs and if Cleveland's soap opera struggles continue this week, the Raps could move into first place in the Eastern conference if their home success continues and they sweep this week.
March 2nd vs. Jazz - Lowry's Return
After sitting out Sunday's game for rest (which despite the loss is definitely the right decision) Kyle Lowry will have had four full days off of game action before this one. Although the Jazz now have a league average starter in Mack at the point, Lowry should eat him as well as Trey Burke and Raul Neto for dinner with his fresh legs. Going small for large stretches in this one could benefit the Raps, as Rudy Gobert will hang around the basket for most of his minutes and getting Patrick Patterson in at the five could stretch the floor and create open looks around the perimeter.
March 4th vs. Trail Blazers - Boss Davis in the Building
The Blazers bounced back from their disappointing TNT loss at home against the Rockets in beating the Bulls and Pacers on the first two legs of their eastern swing. They've also been experimenting with a ton of lineups, as Mo Harkless was getting lots of crunch time minutes at the four, before Terry Stotts made a change the other night to go with Ed Davis and Miles Plumlee:
Great rim D from Ed Davis last night. Interesting Stotts closed w/ Davis/Plumlee combo that rarely plays. And no CJ till very late.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) February 28, 2016
As one of the few bright spots this team had during the dark days in the beginning of the 2010s, it's been a delight to see Boss finding his niche in Portland. You should stand up and cheer him on Friday night when he checks into the game.
March 6th vs. Rockets - If it's Broke, it needs Fixin'
A few weeks ago, J.B. Bickerstaff called his a bunch a broken team, and not much has changed since then. Things may have even gotten worse chemistry wise, as reports of both James Harden and Dwight Howard trying to get the other sent packing surfaced, and the Donatas Motiejunas trade was nixed due to his back issues, and the Rockets are now stuck with the same group that has completely underachieved all season. The Raptors should have no problem exploiting the Rockets energy and defensive flaws, and as long as they don't let Harden go off for a 40 point night, the Rockets roller coaster of a season will continue.
What's your prediction for the Raps this week?