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Preview: Banged-up Raptors use guard assault on Thunder

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Time to rule the paint.

I can go twice as high!
Flying high in the sky
W. Bennett Berry

The Raptors are coming into town tonight! At 4-2, the Raptors are looking strong in the East. ButToronto is dealing with a couple of key injuries to Jonas Valanciunas and Jared Sullinger. Meanwhile, OKC is off to a franchise best 6-1 start. Amazing considering the circumstances, but I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Raps

Toronto is at an interesting point. This is probably the strongest Raptor team that we’ve had since 1995. The departures of veteran big men Bismack Biyombo and Luis Scola certainly hurts the Raptors in the short term. But in the long term, the Raptors will have time to develop a new prospect, Jakob Poeltl. Furthermore, the presence of Jared Sullinger, fresh in from the Celtics, will help the Raptors’ scoring efforts.

The big weakness for the Raptors thus far has been a lack of depth. With Jonas Valanciunas sitting out, the Raps lost to the Kings on Sunday. The Raptors also don’t have a ton of talent at the 3 position. LeBron nearly triple doubled in a win over Toronto. All that said, the Raptors are still an upper tier playoff team. Toronto boasts three strong wins over Eastern Conference opponents, and a thriller win at home over Denver.

OKC

The Thunder come off of a smashing win against the Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns looked great, running around screens as if he was a guard. Adams did all he could to stop Towns, and I can’t really blame Adams for bad play. Towns is just that good, and revolutionizing the game. Meanwhile, OKC’s defense held true in other areas. Wiggins couldn’t get to the basket, thanks to Andre Roberson. And Oladipo made sure to keep LaVine smothered. That left Westbrook and Kanter to assume their usual score-first mentalities. By the mid-third quarter, that game was over.

Joffrey Lauvergne and Jerami Grant appear to be regulars off the bench now. Abrines will probably hold onto his spot as well. Thankfully, Singler will probably stay on the bench. The Thunder’s bench lineup is big, but certainly effective at defense and rebounding. Moving forward, rebounding will likely be the Thunder’s hallmark.

Tonight

Tonight should be a really fun game. Two high-end teams trying to prove their legitimacy. Lowry will certainly be a threat, though I’m confident about Roberson’s ability to contain DeRozan. With Valanciunas and Sullinger out, it will be all too easy for OKC to attack the basket.

Prediction: Oklahoma City 108, Toronto Raptors 97.

What do you think of tonight’s game? Drop a comment and let us know!

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Injuries: Jonas Valanciunas (Out), Jared Sullinger (Out), Delon Wright (Out), Steven Adams (Probable-thumb), Cameron Payne (Out)

Time: 7:00 PM Central Daylight Time

Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TV: FSOK, SNT