The Toronto Raptors will face one of their toughest tests of the season when the Oklahoma City Thunder come to town on Sunday afternoon.
After winning nine of 10, the Raptors came out flat and were punished for it on Friday in a loss to the Sacramento Kings.
The Thunder, who hold the Association’s best record, have won four of their last five outings including a win in Philadelphia over the 76ers on Friday.
Here are a few thoughts to consider ahead of today’s game:
Davis stepping up
Raptors power forward Ed Davis has stepped up his play as of late and appears to have claimed the starting spot in front of the injured Andrea Bargnani.
Over the past five games, he has averaged 13.4 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Last summer, Davis was able to work with trainers for the first time in his career. He re-worked his jumper and spent time in Las Vegas — being featured with the Summer League team.
“He wasn’t ready for what he’s doing now scoring-wise, I don’t think so. I don’t think he had confidence in his shot,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey told Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.
“We want to rush the young guys, (but) he’s a prime example that you can’t rush them. He worked as hard last year, it just took time to get to this point.”
The right choice?
The Thunder had a choice to make recently which came down to James Harden or Serge Ibaka.
They could have kept both but that would have tested the budget so they sent Harden packing, counting on Ibaka’s defence and continued development to be more important to the team than Harden’s scoring which can be replicated elsewhere.
With the team currently atop the NBA standings and Ibaka having stepped up, the Thunder appear to have made the right decision.
He’s averaging a career-high 14.3 points and is the Thunder’s top rebounder at 8.5 per game.
“I work hard. I try to do my best I can, getting better and better,” Ibaka told the Associated Press. “I don’t want just to be like people used to know Serge Ibaka four years ago.”