The San Antonio Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan called the Toronto Raptors his home squad for nine years. Now, he will return to Toronto today to play his former team on the road for the first time (7 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN).
The 33-26 Spurs and 43-16 Raptors met in San Antonio at the beginning of January. The Spurs won that matchup 125-107, but Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry was injured for the game.
These teams have been headed in somewhat opposite directions since that contest. San Antonio has been inconsistent and lost four of its last five contests before the All-Star break. The Raptors are on a six-game winning streak and will look to extend that streak today.
How will the second matchup play out? It will likely go better for the Raptors this time, but let’s discuss some factors that could swing this game in one way or the other. Finally, we will provide some San Antonio Spurs vs Toronto Raptors predictions and picks on the game’s spread and the over/under on the points total.
What Impact Will Derrick White and DeMar DeRozan Have?
In the last game between these two teams, White and DeRozan were excellent for San Antonio. White put up an efficient 19 points and four assists and made several great defensive plays, while DeRozan had first career triple-double of 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
There’s reason to expect that both guys won’t be quite as impactful this time around. White hasn’t played in about three weeks due to an injured heel, and he’s actually only probable for this game. DeRozan has been in a slump since that last game against his former team. Will he push through it to perform well in front of his old home crowd or will the struggles persist?
Remember, Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry is healthy this time and this game is taking place in Toronto, so the Spurs’ best perimeter guys can’t afford to have lackluster games.
Will Marc Gasol Have Found His Niche in Toronto Over the All-Star Break?
Gasol was Toronto’s big acquisition at the trade deadline. It remains to be seen whether it was a smart move for the team but early on, Gasol has been decent. He is averaging 10 points and 6.3 rebounds on 56.6 percent true shooting in 20 minutes per game.
Currently, Gasol is a reserve. However, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has said he is undecided about whether Gasol or Ibaka will start at center against the Spurs. Whatever his decision, it is likely that Gasol’s minute load will increase slightly, giving him more leeway to make an impact.
The veteran big man is very skilled as a passer, shooter and post player. He is also an extremely heady defensive player. However, he is slow laterally and doesn’t rebound well. It will be interesting to see how Nurse plans to use Gasol’s skill set. I think we’ll get a hint of that on Friday in the team’s first game back from the All-Star break.
Will Rudy Gay and Davis Bertans Be Able to Neutralize Pascal Siakam?
The Raptors’ Siakam has been on a roll as of late. The Most Improved Player favorite has games of 33 and 44 points in his last four contests and now has 13 straight games of double-figure scoring. He was a legitimate All-Star snub.
San Antonio will likely match up with Siakam using a combination of Rudy Gay and Davis Bertans. Neither guy has been as impressive as Siakam this season, but both are good players who can impact the game in various ways. Gay is a strong one-on-one scorer and decent defender, while Bertans is one of the league’s best three-point shooters and also a serviceable defender.
The pair will likely take turns matching up against Siakam. The challenge for the Spurs’ combo forwards will be to make Siakam work when the Raptors are on defense and prevent Toronto’s youngster from getting a full head of steam toward the basket. That’s where Siakam is dangerous and can hurt the Spurs with his scoring and playmaking.
Our Preview’s San Antonio Spurs vs. Toronto Raptors Predictions & Betting Picks
Emotions will run high in this game. I predict a Toronto win, but given that the Raptors are still trying to integrate Marc Gasol and both teams have gotten rested and healthy, I think the Spurs will keep it close. Legendary San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich will keep his rotations tight, and he will have the defensive game plan to keep the Raptors from exploiting a Spurs defense that was struggling before the All-Star break.
This is another one of those games that could have a playoff atmosphere and feature more deliberate offensive possessions in the half court. So we come to the betting picks for this NBA game and this is how our San Antonio Spurs vs Toronto Raptors predictions look for this preview:
- The Raptors are being favored by 7.5 points with the top rated USA offshore bookies. I think the best move is betting on the Spurs +7.5pts @ -110 with Bovada, BetOnline or Intertops.
- This intense game should be close most of the way as both teams execute carefully on offense against each other’s prepared defenses. For the total points, I advise betting the under 228pts @ best odds of -110 with Bookmaker or BetOnline It is -115 with Bovada.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.