Game Preview: Raptors vs. Spurs

A Raptors team in flux moves heads into a tough matchup against a model of consistency in the San Antonio Spurs tonight (7 PM ET, Sportsnet ONE/Sportsnet Ontario, FAN590). What to watch heading into this one.

Can The Raptors Compete Shorthanded Again? Because it looks like they’ll have to without new additions Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson in the lineup against the Spurs, according to Masai Ujiri after his latest deal on Monday.

But there’s more. Tyler Hansbrough could remain out with a sprained left shoulder, while guard D.J. Augustin was waived by the Raptors before the multi-player trade was made official on Monday.

That leaves 10 Raptors available to play on Tuesday, which is two more than they used in Sunday’s surprising 106-94 road win over the Lakers. At 15-4, last season’s Western Conference champs are obviously a completely different animal.

Can The Offence Look Like It Did In L.A. Again? The Raptors moved the ball effectively in Sunday’s win and head coach Dwane Casey seemed a little more emphatic post-game that this was the new expected norm with his changed group.

“The ball was zinging, it wasn’t sitting,” Casey said from Staples Center. “I think teams in this league load up on you once you hold the ball and the ball sits. Like I told the team, that’s the way we’re going to play, no matter who’s in our uniform, we’re going to continue to play that way or they’re not going to play. That’s the way it’s got to be, no disrespect to anybody, we’ve got to play as a unit to be successful.”

Tough test to keep that rolling against the Spurs, who come into Tuesday’s game second to the Pacers in defensive rating at 95.1 points allowed per 100 possessions.

The veteran squad also continues to get the job done on the road, where they’ve allowed just 91.2 points on their way to a 7-2 record.

But by their lofty standards, the Spurs have hit a bit of a rough patch with losses in three of their last five after starting the season 13-1. In their last three games, they’ve allowed an average of 107.7 points.

Can Amir Johnson Stay Hot? The energetic power forward is coming off a career night in his native Los Angeles, where he posted career highs in points (32) and field goals (14). According to Johnson post-game, it was a performance fueled by pride and family as much as it was by some new-found spacing on the floor and a little more pick-and-roll action than we’ve seen from the Raptors in a while.

But that game was just the cap on what was a resurgent road trip out West for the veteran, who will try to keep it going against Tim Duncan tonight.

Opponent FGM-A Points Rebounds Blocks
@ Warriors 7-10 16 10 1
@ Suns 9-15 22 7 3
@ Lakers 14-17 32 10 2

Last Time They Met: The Raptors got a big game from DeMar DeRozan (29 points) and a career night from Jonas Valanciunas (22 points, seven rebounds and three blocks) against the Spurs at Air Canada Center back on November 25, 2012. But it wasn’t enough, as Tony Parker — who has thrived in his last two visits to Toronto (66 points, 19 assists) — combined with Tim Duncan to score 58 points and hand the Raptors a 111-106 defeat in double-OT.

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