What’s the deal with the Raptors playing teams without their best players this season? So far, they’ve played the Wizards without John Wall, the Sixers without Andre Iguodala, and tonight they’ll probably play the Thunder without Kevin Durant as he’s expected to miss the game with a sprained left knee — an injury he suffered against the Hornets on Monday.
Before you go thinking this gives the Raptors a good chance to win tonight, I should inform you that the Thunder are 3-0 when playing without Durant this season and Russell Westbrook has averaged 29 points, seven assists and seven rebounds in those games. In Wednesday’s triple-overtime win over the Nets, Westbrook posted these gaudy numbers: 38 points, nine assists and 15 rebounds. Did I mention that he just turned 22 last month?
Durant or no Durant, the Raptors would make a big statement with a win tonight. With the way they’ve been playing lately, I wouldn’t put it past them. Oh yeah, and a Raptors win would put them in sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference (with an 8-11 record, but still!)
Toronto: Peja Stojakovic is listed as questionable for tonight with his swollen old-man knee (writes the guy who is actually older than Peja).
Oklahoma City: No KD, but that’s it.
1. Will this season’s more athletic version of the Raptors be able to do a better job keeping up with the young, dynamic Thunder? Oklahoma City’s two victories over Toronto last season were by a combined 46 points.
2. Which Raptor guards will be able to have some success keeping Russell Westbrook off the glass? At today’s shootaround, Jay Triano said, “It’s the responsibility of the guards to get a body on him to stop his direct line…”
3. Have you played against Russ in NBA 2K11? It’s like trying to guard Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil.
4. Is “Serge Iblocka” a top-five NBA nickname?
5. Is Nick Collison the sweatiest man in the NBA? Megan Wilson attended yesterday’s practice and she claims that she’s never seen another human being perspire like that.
Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Oklahoma City: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, Nenad Krstic
Tonight’s pregame song is “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” by Them Crooked Vultures. Try not to erase too much of your mind this weekend.