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The Rap-Up: Games of the Week for Nov. 4-10

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Toronto starts the week against two of the worst teams in the league before stepping Inside the Green Room. Who ya got this week?

2019 NBA Finals - Toronto Raptors v Golden State Warriors Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

What an interesting first week of games for the defending, reigning, world champions, Toronto Raptors. Six games in and six scenarios that will likely be repeated all season.

  • Sluggish start, followed by championship mettle-showing victory (Pelicans)
  • Sluggish start, followed by championship mettle-showing comeback, but, ultimately, a loss (Bucks)
  • Close loss that could’ve been a win (Celtics)
  • Close win that could’ve been a loss (Magic)
  • Beatdown of lottery team (Bulls)
  • Beatdown of playoff team (Pistons)

With three games on the schedule, what should we expect this week from the Raptors, as they embark on their longest road trip of the season.

November 6 vs. Sacramento Kings

After four days off, the Kings of the North return home to face the Kings of North California. If you had any part of the Sacramento hype train before the season, that was quickly extinguished after an opening game 29-point loss to the Phoenix Suns! Marvin Bagley, who was supposed to make a De’Aaron-esque leap this season, lasted all of one game before fracturing his right thumb and is now out for 4-6 weeks. Buddy Hield has thanked his team for signing him to an extension, by shooting under 39% from the field, and under 36% from three. De’Aaron Fox, who was a finalist for Most Improved Player last season, hasn’t shown any signs of further improvement so far. Scoring and rebounding were similar to last season, but turnovers have increased and efficiency numbers have dipped dramatically.

Oh, and there’s Cory Joseph, who joined the C.J. Miles All-Stars of former Raptors that just missed out on getting a ring. He’s currently 10th in minutes per game for the league’s worst team. Pour a Moosehead out for the Toronto native.

Fun Fact That May Only Interest Me

During last Monday’s home loss (surprise!) to the Nuggets, Richaun Holmes provided a spark off the bench with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Things are so glum in Sacramento that his performance prompted “M-V-P” chants from the crowd. Wow, that’s almost as bad as dropping confetti for a win in your sixth regular season game.

Prediction

Luke Walton’s squad looks like they’re in for a long season. The Kings are in the bottom five in both offensive and defensive ratings. Their only above-average team stat (4th in offensive rebounding) took a major hit with Bagley’s injury. Sacramento’s defense ranks 23rd in opponent’s three-pointers made and 27th in opponent’s three-point FG% — areas where Toronto’s offense rank 3rd and 4th respectively. The four-day layoff works in the Raptors’ favour, as the good guys will put on a show for the home crowd before hitting the road. Chalk this up to the “beatdown of lottery team” category as the Raps slay the Kings, 123-108.

November 8 @ New Orleans Pelicans

Since we last saw the Pelicans, they continued last season’s trend of playing quickly (6th in Pace), scoring a lot (4th in Scoring), and losing games (providing Golden State’s lone victory). It should be noted that Jrue Holiday missed the Rockets game (a narrow loss in Houston), as well as the Warriors game (the last full game for Stephen Curry). As Raptors fans are fully aware, this is a scrappy Pelicans squad. Each of their losses were competitive and high-scoring, with New Orleans topping 122 in four of their first five games.

Fun Fact That May Only Interest Me

According to Basketball Reference, Jrue Holiday has the following nicknames: JHolla, The Jruth, and Kung Fu Jrue. How have none of these outstanding nicknames become common knowledge?!? Can anybody confirm if the Pelicans broadcast team has ever yelled out, “The Jruth comes through with a big bucket,” or “Kung Fu Jrue with the steal. He’s got no one in front of him. JHOLLLAAAAAAAA with the breakaway jam”?

Prediction

The first meeting between these teams is a good barometer for what to expect this time around. Assuming Derrick Favors returns from missing a few games with right knee soreness, and also assuming Nick Nurse continues trolling us with a 8-man rotation, Toronto’s got a great chance of replicating their second half performance from the season opener. There won’t be any ring/banner ceremony to emotionally return from. Just a solid Raptor offense (13th in offensive rating), picking apart a mediocre Pelicans defense (28th in defensive rating. The Raptors kick off the longest road trip of the season with a “close win that could’ve been a loss,defeating the Pelicans 120-115.

November 10 @ Los Angeles Lakers

You knew this day was coming. Flashbacks to an unforgettable NBA Finals. Walking off the Oracle Arena court one last time, not knowing where he’d be playing in October, but sensing change was coming. Pick your favourite Game 6 highlights from the Finals and he was likely a part of it. Breakaway layup, only to be chased down and blocked. Messing up his defensive assignment on a simple pick-and-roll, leaving Fred VanVleet wide open for the dagger three. Yes, Quinn Cook will forever live in Raptor lore!

Hey, look! Danny Green is on this squad too!! You think they talk about that chase-down block or nah?

Fun Fact That May Only Interest Me

In Magic Johnson’s rookie season with the Lakers, he amassed a grand total of seven three-pointers. In Danny Green’s first game as a Laker, he hit seven triples. In fact, Magic hit 16 threes total over his first four seasons. Green hit his 16th on Sunday — his sixth game as a Laker!

I get it... different eras. But you were warned. This may only interest me!

Prediction

Who’s matching up with whom? Anunoby on LeBron; Lowry on Bradley; FVV on Green; Siakam on Davis; Gasol on McGee? On the other end, Lebron on Siakam; Bradley on FVV; Green on Lowry; Davis on Siakam; McGee on Gasol? I probably have a matchup or two or 10 wrong, but this certainly looks like a matchup of two of the best defenses in the NBA (Lakers #2; Raptors #9). Green knows how to guard every Raptor in the 7-man rotation. Davis rendered Toronto’s frontcourt useless last season, scoring 25 points and grabbing 20 rebounds. Bradley was a Raptor pest in Boston and will surely be the same in LA. Lebron... well, LEBRONTO was a meme for a reason. Let’s give this a “close loss that could’ve been a win,” as Toronto falls to the Lakers, 108-99.

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Season Record for Predictions: 5 - 1