After slaying one dragon in the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night, the Toronto Raptors face another of the Association’s monsters at home on Saturday night when they welcome the defending NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors, to the Air Canada Centre.
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The two teams already met earlier in the fall during this season’s nascent days at The Oracle, with the Warriors coming out on top 117-112.
Taking down Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and the rest of the Dubs juggernaut in recent meetings has been a bridge too far for the Raptors. Heading into Saturday’s game, the Raps have lost seven straight to Steve Kerr’s team. The last time they were victorious against the Warriors was nearly four years ago, on March 2, 2014. The Raptors got 32 points from DeMar DeRozan in a 104-98 win. To give a sense of just how long ago that actually was, Landry Fields started that game for the Raptors, while the likes of Nando de Colo and John Salmons also saw the court that night for the Dinos.
Over the course of the seven-game skid, the Raps have kept it competitive in almost every game. Four of the seven contests have been settled by five points or fewer, with the Warriors’ 126-105 win on Jan. 2, 2015 – the first game of the streak – the only blowout of the bunch. Three Warriors (Curry, Thompson and the now-departed Mo Speights) had 20-plus points that night, while Draymond Green posted a triple-double (16 points, 11 boards and 13 assists).
Though the Warriors lead the all-time series between the two teams 27-15, the Raptors actually own the longest win streak during the series, claiming eight straight victories between Nov. 4, 1997 and Nov. 14, 2001. The Raptors’ top scorer in that first win was John Wallace (17 points), while Vince Carter’s 24 points led the way in that eighth win.
The Dubs had a five-game winning streak broken on Wednesday night in a surprise 126-105 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers when former Raptor Lou Williams went off for a career-high 50 points. On Friday night, the team rebounded with a 108-94 convincing road win over the Milwaukee Bucks, outscoring them 28-12 in the fourth quarter.
Curry has missed the last two contests with an ankle ailment and is probable on Saturday against the Raptors. Curry isn’t the only member of the Dubs to be dealing with injuries, though. Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston are both considered day-to-day with knee issues, while Green and Durant have also dealt with leg ailments over the past weeks.
But even if Curry does return, don’t look for a battle of All-Star backcourts. While the Splash Brothers could be reunited in Toronto, Kyle Lowry will likely miss his second straight game with a tailbone injury incurred after taking a hard fall during the team’s overtime victory against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. Toronto will have Serge Ibaka back, having served his one-game suspension for an altercation with the Miami Heat’s James Johnson on Tuesday night.
Regardless of the result, the Raptors will post their best ever first-half record. At 29-11, the team has already eclipsed their previous best mark at the break, last year’s 28-13 record.