The Toronto Raptors have been among the best teams in the NBA for the last few years now but for some reason the Kings have had their number. Sacramento has won the last four games in a row against Toronto over the past two seasons. Still, that was a much different looking Kings team, and DeMarcus Cousins’ size, strength and skill was a big factor in those wins. Can the new look Kings keep on torturing the Raptors?
When: Sunday, December 10th; 12:30 pm PST
Where: Golden1 Center
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
The Raptors are the epitome of a team that is really good but isn’t great. Every year they seem to win about 50 games but then collapse in the playoffs. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan make up one of the most talented backcourts in the NBA, and they’ve got other nice pieces in Serge Ibaka, Norman Powell and Jonas Valanciunas as well. Their summer saw them get what I consider a draft day steal in OG Anunoby, who fell to them at 23 despite being considered a lottery talent by many.
In his ninth year, DeRozan is still expanding his game. He has yet to become a reliable outside shooter (just 26.7% from three this year and 28.0% for his career), but he’s devastating attacking the rim and getting to the line and he’s a very effective midrange shooter. This year, he’s also becoming more of a playmaker, averaging a career-high 4.9 assists, almost a full assist a game better than his previous career-high.
DeRozan might be Toronto’s best player, but Lowry is their soul. It was his emergence that propelled the Raptors to become the reliably good team that they were today. He isn’t scoring as much this year as he has in years past, but he’s launching threes at a greater rate than he ever has and hitting them at an almost 42% clip. When I watch Frank Mason play, we get a lot of comparisons to former Kings like Bobby Jackson or Isaiah Thomas. I see a younger version of Kyle Lowry and I’ll be excited to see the two of them match up together.
It’s unclear if the Kings are getting Willie Cauley-Stein back today. Cauley-Stein injured his back a week ago and missed the subsequent games against the Cavaliers and Pelicans. The Kings have recalled Skal Labissiere, Justin Jackson and Malachi Richardson from the Reno Bighorns however so they will have some extra depth if they need it.
(P.S. no prediction contest today because the game is too early and this might not give everyone the time to submit a question.)
The Kings and Raptors play a close game but with the clock winding down the Raptors finally seem to have killed their Kings curse. With one second left, Lowry throws the ball straight up in the air. It hits the Golden1 Center screen and ricochets back into the Raptors hoop, counting as a three pointer and a Kings win.
Kings 107, Raptors 106