San Antonio Spurs vs. Toronto RaptorsAT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
December 23, 2013, 7:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
Not exactly sure whom the Toronto Raptors forgot to send a holiday card to, but someone noticed and decided to pay them back by scheduling them with a punishing 4 game road trip through the heart of Christmas week. Fortunately for the Dinos, they prevailed over Dallas in overtime on Friday night, and won in OKC on the Thunder's SEGABABA. Fortunately for the Spurs, who are seeking to recover from Saturday night's home loss to OKC, Toronto arrives tonight to complete their own B2B in an early season rematch of the December 10 game that the good guys won 116 to 103.
In that first meeting, the Spurs caught Toronto with only 10 players on their roster as the result of the incomplete trade of Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray to Sacramento, combined with an injury to forward Tyler Hansbrough. San Antonio gave up 36 points in the first quarter -- the second most points surrendered in a quarter all year. But by doubling up the home team in the 2nd, the Spurs regained the lead for good. While Jeff Ayers started in place of injured center Tiago Splitter, it was Aron Baynes and his career-high contributions of 14 points that made a big difference. Manu threw in 16 and Tony added 15.
The Raptors have won 3 of 4 since forwards Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson and guards John Salmons and Greivis Vasquez arrived from the Kings, and their only loss was in overtime to the no-longer-a-laughingstock Bobcats. All of the new additions (besides Hayes) have contributed large minutes off the bench with Patterson and Salmons averaging about 7 ppg and Vasquez putting in around 10 ppg.
The Spurs come into this matchup after a loss to Oklahoma City on Saturday night. In that game, the Thunder backcourt ran roughshod over the Spurs defense, as point guard Russell Westbrook had 31 points on 13-22 shooting, and backup point guard Reggie Jackson had 21 points on 8-14. The silver lining in their scoring outburst is that it happened without the Spurs' best defender playing. Kawhi Leonard missed the game against the Thunder due to a dental procedure, but is expected to return to the lineup versus the Raptors. His return should restore the Spurs to full strength for the first time since Splitter went out on December 7. Both will help SA bolster its defense, which has allowed over 100 points in 7 of December's 9 games.
Raptors perspective can be found here: Raptors HQ
Game Prediction: The Spurs don't want to go into the December 25 game against the Rockets sporting a 2 game losing streak and I don't expect they will. Though Toronto seems energized with its new additions, playing Sunday night in OKC will undoubtedly impact the visitors on Monday. Look for Pop to refocus his squad defensively and balanced scoring from both the starters and bench. I see the home for the holiday's crowd witnessing a 101 to 90 Spurs victory.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.
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