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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Toronto Raptors

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What will happen when a pair of 2-seeds separated by 1,700 miles are thrown into the mix together? Hopefully a 39th home win for the Spurs!

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs Toronto Raptors

AT&T Center - San Antonio, Texas
Date: 4/2/16, Time: 7:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW  - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

Life, as Dr. Ian Malcolm puts it, finds a way. And apparently so do good basketball teams.

The Raptors have broken their franchise record for wins in a season and done so while missing DeMarre Carroll for much of the year. They spared no expense this summer signing the small forward, who's been out since early January after undergoing knee surgery, and his absence has stripped Dwayne Casey of his best defender and some flexibility in playing small ball.

Casey to his credit has contributed some solid D from the sidelines. He's also made things work with a fluid frontcourt rotation of Jonas Valanciunas, Bismack Biyombo, Patrick PattersonLuis Scola, Jason Thompson and, most recently, Norman Powell (I hadn't heard of him, either). The undersized Powell has been getting the start at the 3 as of late and looks to be one of the many first-year players making a difference in the second half of the season.

The All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan is still what makes this team go on offense, the two operating as twin creators that prod defenses and are constantly just a skip pass away from one another. They can both score off the catch and off the dribble and make for one of the more entertaining one-two punches in the league. Coaxing DeRozan into settling for long twos is likely still the best defensive strategy against them, but teams that devote too much attention to doing so may open themselves up to cutters coming not from the front -- but from the sides -- from those other Raptors you didn't even know were there.

The biggest concern for Toronto at the moment is Lowry's health. An injury to his shooting arm had previously sidelined him and his shooting numbers have taken a huge hit. Casey's approach appears to be to let him play through it but, with the playoffs in a few weeks, it might not be a question of whether Lowry can or can't play now but whether he should.

If he sits, it'll likely mean the insertion of Cory Joseph into the starting lineup. The former Spur has carved out a good niche for himself since heading north last summer, and we should all be familiar with what he brings to the Raptors as a tough defender and savvy off-the-bench creator. I'd expect Cojo to receive a pretty warm welcome from the AT&T Center crowd tonight.

Like the Spurs, the Raptors have locked up the second-best record in their conference and can now focus on getting set for the playoffs, although the 1-seed is a more realistic goal for them than it is for SA. Still, they're also coming in on a SEGABABA, and Lowry's elbow isn't in great shape. It's possible they sit their star point guard and even decide to punt this game, especially given how hungry their fan base is for a bit of postseason success.

Matchup to watch: The Spurs' home record versus Pop's chaos theory. San Antonio hasn't played since Wednesday and don't play again until Tuesday when they begin a three-game road trip, so there shouldn't be a pressing need to rest anyone. A clean sheet may only be worth a cup of coffee to Gregg Popovich, but it would still make sense to see most players on the floor tonight.

If it feels like I'm hedging here, it's because I am. Anticipating Pop's moves this late in the year can be an exercise in futility, with his next gonzo starting lineup poised to thwart whatever you think will happen and mock both your prediction and (timely!) pop culture references. And then that familiar imp of frustration rears its head again.

But the Warriors' loss last night does add a bit more intrigue to the remaining three home games, with San Antonio able to seize sole ownership of that historic 41-0 feat. Whoever ends up suiting up each night, the final stretch of the season has gotten that much more interesting.

Hold on to your butts.

San Antonio Spurs: 63-12

Toronto Raptors: 51-24

April 2, 2016

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

7:30 pm, CDT

TV: FSSW

Starters

Tony Parker

PG

Kyle Lowry*

Danny Green

SG

DeMar DeRozan

Kawhi Leonard

SF

Norman Powell

LaMarcus Aldridge

PF

Jason Thompson

Tim Duncan

C

Jonas Valanciunas

Game prediction: Spurs by 6.

For the Raptors fans' perspective, visit Raptors HQ.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.