A match-up that has turned into a classic rivalry in recent years, The Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors, will write another chapter of their story Sunday evening at Scotiabank Arena.
The Raptors are coming off a series of disappointing losses, including Friday’s heartbreaking buzzer beater loss to the Brooklyn Nets. While a lot of things went right in the game, the couldn’t get the win. Now, they’ll try and carry those positives over into this upcoming game.
The Warriors have lost their last three games — against Milwaukee, Indiana and Philadelphia — and are 14-16 on the season. The Dubs are in a similar place to the Raptors, where injury hasn’t allowed them to really hit their stride yet on the season. Though they are the reigning champs, so don’t count them out.
On the Raptors injury list, Precious Achiuwa is expected to miss a few more weeks with that ankle injury. O.G. Anunoby was expected to miss some time after injuring his hip, but there has not been a recent update — he remains out. Otto Porter Jr. will also be out for another month with his toe injury.
Gary Trent Jr. is day-to-day with quad tightness. Nick Nurse explained in Friday’s post-game press conference that Gary felt tight in his pre-game workout Friday and didn’t feel like he should risk it.
As for the Warriors, they will be missing Steph Curry as well as Andre Iguodala (hip) and Canadian Andrew Wiggins (groin). Draymond Green is day-to-day. While Steph does not have to have surgery on his shoulder, he is expected to miss about a month.
Make sure to catch the Toronto Raptors take on the Golden State Warriors Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. EST on TSN.
Despite the fact that the Raptors have lost their last four games, their performance against Brooklyn showed improvement on many fronts.
In the spirit of positivity (because we could use it) — here are three ways in which in the Raptors SUCCEEDED against Brooklyn, and how they can take that into their match up against Golden State.
The reigning Rookie of the Year has had a turbulent sophomore season and unfortunately has been the subject of a lot of think pieces in recent weeks. The pressure put on him is somewhat understandable — he’s the no. 4 pick in a packed draft class, won the ROY award, and is incredibly talented.
He’s also 21 years old, so frankly, some of the criticisms on him go a little far at times. In Friday’s post-game press conference Fred VanVleet mentioned that the media is “waiting for [Scottie] to turn into a beautiful butterfly, but that’s up to him.”
He also mentioned his unwavering support for Barnes, saying “When he plays great we’re happy for him and when he plays bad we’re there form him.”
VanVleet on Barnes: "You guys are waiting for him to hatch into some beautiful butterfly but that's up to him. His development is totally up to him... It's our job to try to support him in that... When he plays great we're happy for him and when he plays bad we're there for him" pic.twitter.com/hVGnSfiDsz— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) December 17, 2022
Regardless of all of this, Scottie had a great night against Brooklyn. He scored 26 points, three assists and three rebounds. Nineteen of his total point were scored in the second half, and he had 17 in the fourth quarter alone.
He hit a stride in the fourth quarter — going 100% from the field and from the free throw line. He scored those 17 points on five field goals and seven trips to the line. He was finishing at the rim in ways he was missing before — getting visibly upset with himself.
If there is a takeaway from the loss, hopefully it’s that Scottie Barnes is capable of having nights like that. If he can maintain that level of play, the Raptors’ worries decrease significantly.
Friday night’s loss to the Nets marked VanVleet’s second 39 point game in a row — and while he said himself after the game that it doesn’t count much unless they win, it does show he is playing some good basketball.
He scored 25 of those 39 points in the first half, going 9/15 from the field and making five trips to the line (going 4/5). He also ended with four assists and five rebounds.
The numbers speak for themselves — he’s the best performing player currently available for this team. When Fred succeeds, the team succeeds.
Let’s hope more success is in the future.
The last play aside, the Raptors did well on defence last night. The forced fifteen turnovers on the Nets which resulted in 21 points. On the flip side, the Raptors only suffered nine turnovers themselves resulting in 10 points from the Nets.
They also held Kevin Durant to 28 points, which still seems like a lot... but it’s Kevin Durant. In the fourth quarter, they held him to four points and only four shots. Despite the fact that Kyrie made that last shot (and many others), their defence on KD was admirable.
The Raptors ability to guard superstars could help them a lot down the line in their upcoming schedule of games. Even with Steph Curry out, the Golden State Warriors still have Klay Thompson and a roster full of talent.
If the Raptors can stay active on defence, force turnovers, and hold Klay Thompson to a reasonable number, getting back in the W column doesn’t seem like too distant of a goal.
The Raptors will face the Golden State Warriors Sunday at 6:00 p.m. EST. Catch the game on TSN.