Preview: Spurs at Raptors
DeMar DeRozan will make his first trip back to where he started his career when the San Antonio Spurs visit the Toronto Raptors on Friday. DeRozan, who was sent to the Spurs in the blockbuster deal last summer that placed Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in Toronto, is averaging 21.4 points while trying to pull San Antonio into the Western Conference playoffs.
DeRozan was a four-time All-Star for the Raptors and holds the franchise records for games played (675), minutes (22,986) and points (13,296) and is expected to be greeted warmly by the Toronto crowd. “I think it’ll definitely be one for the ages,” DeRozan told TSN of his impending return. “It’s something where you think you’ve experienced everything, but that will be an interesting moment.” The Raptors have done just fine without DeRozan and sit in second place in the Eastern Conference coming out of the All-Star break and went into the break hot with wins in six straight. DeRozan’s Spurs are in a more precarious position and went into the break in seventh place in the West after dropping four of the first five on their eight-game Rodeo Road Trip.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN, TSN 1/3/4 (Toronto)
ABOUT THE SPURS (33-26): San Antonio struggled through the Western Conference portion of the trip prior to the break, falling at Sacramento, Golden State, Portland and Utah before recovering with a 108-107 victory at Memphis on Feb. 12. DeRozan, who missed out on the All-Star game in his first season with the Spurs, is averaging 23.5 points on the trip while All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge went into the break strong with three straight double-doubles. San Antonio finishes out the trip with a back-to-back at New York and Brooklyn on Sunday and Monday before playing eight of their next 10 at home.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (43-16): Leonard did make the All-Star Game in his first season with Toronto and started for winning Team LeBron, scoring 19 points in as many minutes. The Raptors made a splash ahead of the deadline by bringing former All-Star center Marc Gasol over from the Grizzlies and are undefeated in three games with him in the lineup. Gasol, 34, is still ironing out his place in the rotation and came off the bench in each of his first three games, averaging 10 points in 20 minutes.
1. Spurs PG Derrick White (plantar fasciitis) sat out the last five games but is expected to return Friday.
2. Raptors SG Patrick McCaw (shoulder) sat out the final game prior to the break and is questionable.
3. San Antonio earned a 125-107 home win over Toronto on Jan. 3 behind 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists from DeRozan.