The last time the Raptors won back to back games was December 1st and 3rd. That second win ironically enough was against Oklahoma City who at the time was without Kevin Durant. The will have him today and they will also have their big trade deadline pick up in Kendrick Perkins. The Thunder sit in 4th in the West with a five game lead over 5th for home court advantage. They enter the day two and half games out of 3rd. While the Raptors are fifth in the ping pong ball standings. There win over Washington left them two and half games ahead of the Wizards and Kings. Which in the ping pong ball standing is being behind. This starts a 5 game Western trip that will see the Raptors log some serious miles. After the game today it is a trip to Denver for a back to back tomorrow, then Wednesday visit to Phoenix, and another back to back in Oakland and L.A against the Warriors and Clippers on Friday and Saturday. After travelling to England earlier in the month they now face this road trip. It is just another difficult task in what has been a difficult season.
The Basics: Raptors 14-49 (3-5 in March) OKC 45-23 (6 Game Winning Streak)
When Last We Saw Them: Bargnani and DeRozan combined for 63 points. That was enough to power the Raptors past the Wizards at the ACC. Jose Calderon also played well and hit the shot that ended any doubt in the victory. While Reggie Evans is a rebounding machine and had 15 boards doing his thing as he has since returning to the line-up.
Key Match Ups: Westbrook the last time he played the Raptors had to be Superman. Today being the side kick or tag team partner of Kevin Durant for this one. Jose Calderon will have his hands full and this is a match-up he should lose 99 times out of 100. James Johnson who the Raptors have made it not secret is in their to play defence has one of the toughest assignments in the game today in guarding Kevin Durant. Then you have this new defensive duo of Ibaka and Perkins. This is without mentioning Thabo Sefolosha who could make life difficult for Demar DeRozan. Also without mentioning James Harden who since the trade at the deadline has an increased roll in the offence with Jeff Green off to Boston. Yeah there is a reason I picked the Thunder to make the NBA Finals. The reason is they are pretty good.
Other Things Of Note: Nate Robinson is out with a knee injury according to the Thunder's Game Notes. For people that have read the blog or heard me on the radio you will know how "disappointed" I am by this. Thunder/Sonics all time are 18-11 vs the Raptors. We all go on about Andrea Bargnani's lack of rebounding ability/effort, well he had 12 against the Thunder on December 3rd in the Raptors 111-99 win. Three things will be different today though, Kendrick Perkins was a Celtic when that happened, Kevin Durant was eating Pizza in locker room and was out with a sore knee and Reggie Evans is now back going after every rebound.
Where is it on? TSN (Wait aren't they suppose to be doing March Madness ??)