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Raptors prepare to run with the Warriors: Preview, start time, and more

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Golden State is an extremely mortal 2-2 so far this season, but for the Raptors: they’re still the Warriors.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Starting the season 2-2 for almost any other team would be no real cause for alarm. There are still 78 games left to figure it all out. I liken it to that first hour of the work day — everyone is taking their first sip of coffee, and getting their minds and bodies right for the day (or season) ahead. Marathon, not a sprint, and all that.

But for the Warriors — the 73-9, two-time defending champ, stocked full of All-Star Hall of Fame Warriors — it is a little arresting to see the number .500 anywhere near their name. We’re just four games in, but still: whoa.

The Raptors are into their second game of a six-game road trip. Usually this trip comes up over the Christmas/New Year’s run at the end of the calendar year. And usually the Raptors try their best to endure and go at least .500. After Monday’s loss to the Spurs, Toronto will have five more chances to straighten things out. It just so happens that they’ll take on a Warriors team that is playing angry. Both Kevin Durant and Steph Curry were recently ejected from a game.

And Golden State is currently 2-2. I imagine they aren’t happy. Let’s see how that plays out. Here are the details for tonight’s game.

Where to watch:

Sportsnet One at 10:30 pm

Starters:

Raptors - Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan (I know we talked about injuries yesterday, but I bet he plays), Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka, Jakob Poeltl (see the injured section for explanation)

Warriors - Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia

Injuries:

Raptors - Malcolm Miller, Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan (maybe?), Lucas Nogueira (good lord, he played one game)

Warriors - Damian Jones

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Walking Wounded with the Raptors

It sucks to be talking about this so early in the season, but the Raptors are already banged up.

On Saturday’s game against the Sixers, Valanciunas went down with a left ankle sprain. As we’ve noted, he’s travelling with the Raptors right now so that suggests a return soon. However as Grange tweeted, he’s not going to go tonight against the Warriors. Would that be the worst thing? Probably not, since tonight is definitely the time to go small and try Serge at centre to run-and-gun with Golden State.

It’s also a good time to go with Ibaka at centre because Lucas Nogueira was injured in Monday’s game against the Spurs. That’s a bummer, but also: this is just another bit of bad luck for Bebe. One of the knocks on him in his early career was that he just couldn’t stay healthy. The rigours of the NBA kept knocking it out of him, and here he is again, levelled by a bad ankle.

Finally, is DeRozan good to go? I predict yet, but we’ll have to see what kind of production the Raptors can get from him. And they’ll need every bucket they can get against the Warriors, and because, well...

How is Kyle Lowry?

In the season’s first game, it was cool if Lowry was just easing his way into it. In the second game, he played well and once again did not have to stress himself. But then against the Spurs, a team that can actually offer up some competition, Lowry looked outworked and outgunned: just eight points, 3-of-11 shooting, and three assists. Meanwhile, Dejounte Murray sped off to a 16 point-14 rebounds-6 assist night right in his face. Yikes.

It’s the early season and of course there will be nights like this for Lowry. He’s still extremely valuable for the Raptors as a shot-caller and decision maker. The team needs him to be aggressive even if his shot isn’t falling because of what it opens up for the rest of the team. Against the Warriors, Lowry has often showed out and tried his best to topple the kings of the league. Will it happen again tonight, or are we about to fall deeper into this pit of concern?

The Struggle Warriors

Are the Warriors OK? It feels insane to suggest this, but still: 2-2, with a couple of ejections in a loss to Memphis, Green acting as the voice of reason, and guys like Nick Young being called on to shoot the team out of problems (in the season opener, which they also somehow lost).

On the other hand, the Warriors handily destroyed the Mavericks on Monday night (133-103), and wouldn’t you know it: they’ve got the best offensive rating in the league. (Their defensive rating though has them ranked at 21st in the league — just ahead of the Lakers — which is mildly amazing. So that’s, uh, something.)

I guess my (extremely obvious) point here is that the Raptors should not take this contest lightly. The Warriors may be 2-2, but they are still the Warriors.