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Denver Nuggets at Toronto Raptors: Trying to salvage road trip

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The Nuggets end their three game road trip with the best team in the Eastern Conference, Masai Ujiri's Toronto Raptors.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets close out their quick three game, all over the East trip, roadie with a stop up in Toronto to take on the Eastern Conference leading Raptors.

Yesterday in Atlanta, against the Hawks, the Nuggets had their lowest point amount of the season, despite having the game's leading scorer (Wilson Chandler dropped a season high 29 points), rebounder (Timofey Mozgov had 11 boards) and assister (Ty Lawson, 10 dimes), but that is just how the season has gone for the Nuggets so far.

Game 21: 2014-15 NBA Season
@

Raptors Alt Logo

(9-11, 4-7 away)
Series 0-0
(15-5, 9-3 home)
Dec. 8, 2014
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
5:30 PM MT
Altitude / 950 AM

Ty Lawson PG Kyle Lowry
Arron Afflalo SG Greivis Vasquez
Wilson Chandler SF Terrence Ross
J.J. Hickson PF Amir Johnson
Timofey Mozgov C Jonas Valanciunas
Notes
Denver Stiffs Blogs Raptors HQ

JaVale McGee- Left Lower Leg Strain, (Questionable). Nate Robinson- Thoracic Vertebral Contusion (Questionable). Randy Foye - Right Vastus Lateralis Strain (Out), Jusuf Nurkic - Personal Reasons (Not With Team), Kenneth Faried - Back (Questionable)

Injuries DeMar DeRozen - Groin (Out)
Denver won last season's matchup in Toronto, 112-98. Etc... Vasquez dropped 17 on the Nuggets in Toronto last year.

Key Matchup: Ty Lawson vs. Kyle Lowry

Not only does Ty have to win this matchup in points and assists, but he has to win both by a fair margin if the Nuggets have any hopes of winning this game.  Without DeRozen the offense primarily runs through Lowry both in terms of scoring and shot creation.  Despite my love for him, Greivis Vasquez is not going to burn the Nuggets with his athleticism and shot creation skills.


X-Factor: Terrence Ross

Ross has had a terrible time shooting this season and despite having a game where he went off for 50 points last season, I don't predict that he will do the same thing this season, nor will he do it tonight. When the Nuggets double team high on Lowry (with Chandler or Danilo Gallinari) to force him to give up the ball, look for him to swing it on the wing out to Ross, rather down into the post. Ross is only averaging 11.4 points a night this year on just over 45% shooting and is more than content to stand outside and shoot jumpers. He is only getting to the free throw line just once per night.

If Brian Shaw were smart he'd force the Raptors to make Ross beat them with jumpers.

Outlook:

Outside of the game in Washington, the Nuggets have been playing much better basketball, as of late.  With a schedule before Christmas that includes the likes of the Spurs, Rockets and Clippers, (Wednesday vs. Heat) Denver is facing some must wins.  The team cannot afford to sink much further in the standings to have any hopes of a playoff chance.