Photo Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
In the last game of their short three game homestand, the Toronto Raptors will close out the weekend against the Portland Trail Blazers at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay. This anticipated matchup will see former Raptor Norman Powell returning to face the Raps for the first time after being sent to Portland at the trade deadline in exchange for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood.
The previous matchup this season saw the Blazers narrowly defeat the Raptors by a score of 112-111 back on January 11th. Portland currently holds a 27-18 record on the season and sits in sixth place in the Western Conference, tied with the Denver Nuggets.
The Raptors welcome back Norman Powell for the first time as an opponent just three days after trading him to Portland. Norm spent all of his five and a half seasons with the Raptors and has emerged as a strong caliber NBA player since he earned a promotion to the starting lineup this year. He is playing some of the best basketball of his career so far, currently averaging 19.7 points per game while shooting 44.6% from beyond the arc. Portland was able to see Norm’s impact early in his first game with the Blazers Friday where he finished with 22 points, shooting 5/7 from deep. Expect Powell to have a big game against his former team as he looks to continue his high scoring efficiency.
The Raptors newest acquisitions, Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood, will look to adjust to the new team system and make an impact against their former team. In their first game with the Raptors, Trent Jr. was placed in the starting lineup and finished with 8 points on 36.4% shooting from the field. With a new minutes increase, expect Trent Jr. to make a better impact against the Blazers as he gets more comfortable with the team. Rodney Hood will serve more as a role player coming off the bench looking to impact the game with his shooting ability.
Along with Norm Powell, tonight’s key matchups for the Raptors will include Portland’s dynamic backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Lillard is making a case for an MVP season as he is currently second in league scoring, averaging 30 points per game. Along with McCollum who is averaging 24.3 points per game this year, expect Portland’s offence to be heavily facilitated through this backcourt in the matchup.
Catch tonight’s game with tip-off set for 7:00 p.m. EST on Sportsnet One.