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Preview: Nuggets travel North to battle the red-hot Raptors

Denver continues their East Coast road trip to face a Toronto team hitting on all cylinders at the moment

Denver Nuggets v Toronto Raptors Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets must be hyperfocused to steal one against the Toronto Raptors tonight. This Raptors group has won eight in a row and ten of their last twelve. During that stretch, they beat the East’s top team twice in the Heat, one against the second-seeded Bulls, two against the Hawks, and one against the Hornets. Prior to the winning streak, the Raptors were a .500 team, but ever since they grabbed a triple-overtime win in Miami, they have not looked back.

During this eight-game winning streak, Toronto ranks 4th in PPG with 120.5, 1st in 3P% at 43%, and 5th in offensive rebounding with 12.6 per game. Offensively, the Nuggets are not far behind the Raptors in their last eight prior to the Boston matchup. They are 5th in scoring at 119.5 PPG, 3rd in 3P% at 40.5%, and 2nd in FG% at 50.6%. During Toronto’s last six home games they are averaging 120.7 PPG, and in Denver’s last six road games, they are averaging 118.3 PPG, so tonight could be an explosive offensive affair.

The Basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (30-25, 15-15 away) @ Toronto Raptors (31-23, 16-12 home)

When: 5:30 PM MT

Where: Scotiabank Arena

How to watch/listen: NBA League Pass, Altitude TV (If you’re lucky enough), or 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Raptors HQ

Expected Starting Lineups:

TOR: PG Fred VanVleet, SG Gary Trent Jr., SF OG Anunoby, PF Scottie Barnes, C Pascal Siakam

DEN: PG Bones Hyland, SG Will Barton, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Jeff Green, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Monte Morris (out), Austin Rivers (day to day), Vlatko Cancar (out), Fred VanVleet (day to day)

Three Keys

The battle behind the arc

As I said earlier, both teams are scorching hot from the perimeter lately. The Raptors are shooting an insane 43% in their last eight, but the Nuggets do not trail by much at 40.5%. Every starter for the Raptors has found their stroke from deep. During their winning streak, VanVleet, Trent Jr., Barnes, Siakam, and Anunoby are all shooting above 40%. Their guards, VanVleet and Trent Jr., are high volume three-point shooters. During their last eight, both players have over 10 attempts per game. With that being said, the Nuggets have eight players shooting above 40% from three in their last eight games. So get ready for a possible three-point shootout tonight.

Get physical with their forwards

The Raptors might have three of the most talented starting forwards in the league. Siakam, Barnes, and Anunoby are incredible players at both ends of the court and can bother opponents with their strength and length. This goes for all Raptor players tonight, but especially their forwards, the Nuggets cannot let them obtain comfortable looks. Getting physical with them, even if fouls are called, can create some reluctance when they drive into the lane. The Nugget's paint defense is bottom six in the league right now, so although I do not expect an efficient showing, they cannot get bullied inside.

Control the glass

Toronto’s forwards are active everywhere on the floor, especially on the offensive glass. The Nuggets might have a size advantage with Jokic, but the Raptors have the stealth advantage inside. The Raptors are grabbing about 12 offensive rebounds a game during their winning streak, but during that stretch, the Nuggets rank 6th in the league in allowing opponent’s offensive rebounds. The Nuggets also grade 2nd in opponent rebounds over their last eight, while the Raptors rank 18th. Tonight should be an intriguing matchup on the glass. Size versus swiftness.