The Toronto Raptors (7-3) are back on the road once again, however, this time its for a brutal five-game west coast trip. The first stop is against the Sacramento Kings (3-7) on Sunday night in Sacramento, California.
The Toronto Raptors are coming off a two-game winning streak after playing the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Orleans Pelicans. The Raptors defeated the Anthony Davis-less Pelicans, 100-81. Jonas Valanciunas was the leading man for the Raptors as he recorded 20 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes of action. Meanwhile, the backcourt combo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan did a little bit of everything. Lowry finished with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals, while DeRozan added 15 points, 11 assists and six rebounds.
A big key to the victory over the Pelicans was the great play in the second half. Toronto was lights out coming into the third quarter after playing a sloppy first half of basketball filled with turnovers. They held the Pelicans to 35.0 percent shooting in the second half and only 36.6 overall for the game. The Raptors also gained some contribution off the bench, as Patrick Patterson looked like he gained his confidence back and scored 10 points off the bench knocking down a few key three-pointers.
Friday night’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans also saw the return of small forward and off-season acquisition DeMarre Carroll. Carroll had been out for three consecutive games, two ending in losses, as he dealt with a sore left foot. This was a welcome sign because the Raptors are a very strong defensive team when Carroll is on the floor.
Meanwhile, the Sacramento Kings, who have also won two in a row, are coming off a victory against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. DeMarcus Cousins had a huge game scoring 30 of his 40 points in the second half alone, he also totaled 13 rebounds. Rajon Rondo recorded 23 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds as he recorded his third triple-double in four games.
As mentioned earlier, the Kings are riding a two-game winning streak after losing seven of its first eight games of the season due to alleged problems with their coach George Karl, inconsistent play and the absence of DeMarcus Cousins, who was out four games due to a strained Achilles.
The last time these two teams met was at the Air Canada Centre where the Toronto Raptors came out with a 119-102 victory over the Kings. During that game last season the Raptors did a great job containing DeMarcus Cousins only holding him to 13 points. It is also key to note that the Raptors swept the two game season series against the Kings last year as well.
The key to victory in this game for the Raptors is to play great defense and try to contain Cousins again. Toronto also needs to watch out for Rudy Gay, as the former Raptor averaged 21.0 points against his former team last season in the two games they played. It is important for the Toronto Raptors to get a victory in their first game of this five game west coast trip as it doesn't get easier against the likes of the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers.
Projected starting lineups for the Toronto Raptors:
PG: Kyle Lowry
SG DeMar Derozan
SF: DeMarre Carroll
PF: Luis Scola
C: Jonas Valanciunas
Projected starting Lineups for Sacramento Kings:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ben McLemore
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: Willie Cauley-Stein
C: DeMarcus Cousins