On Wednesday, the Toronto Raptors extended their winning streak to four games with a 97-91 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
Tonight, they will look to push the streak to five against an Orlando Magic team that is riding a similar wave of success as the Raptors.
The Magic also collected their fourth consecutive win on Wednesday when they knocked off the Washington Wizards 90-83.
Here are a few points to consider ahead of tonight’s game:
It seemed like a minor footnote to the season when Alan Anderson returned from a foot injury three games ago, but he has quickly morphed into one of the Raptors most dependable players and is the major reason that Raptors coach Dwane Casey has yet to play Landry Fields since he became available on Tuesday.
While Anderson has always seemed like a hard-nosed type of player that Casey loves, no one could have predicted that he would produce 58 points over the Raptors last three games including 16 in Wednesday’s win over the Pistons.
He is quickly developing into a fan favourite in Toronto and Casey had nothing but praise for the well-travelled swingman after Wednesday’s win.
“He’s our voice of reason right now, a veteran guy,” Casey told the Toronto Star’s Doug Smith. “He’s hungry, the young man’s been to China, Europe, got cut, his back’s been against the wall. That’s why I like him, he’s an underdog and he plays like an underdog, he’s hungry and I think that’s way you have to play in league, like nobody owes you anything. You have to play hungry, you have to play desperate … be the first one to hit.”
While everyone expected the Raptors to get off to a slow start with a tough early season schedule, which saw them play more than their fair share of games on the road against a good portion of the NBA’s elite teams, it was still surprising to see things to go quite as badly as they have.
Now that they have hit a softer portion of their schedule, the team’s fortunes have started to turn around.
A week ago, Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo was pleading his case to the media and to the MLSE board over why he should remain the main man and some seemed outraged over the lack of change, but a week has passed and the Raptors are on a roll so all of that talk seems to have been laid to rest.
The Raptors will continue to play an easier schedule right into early January as they are in the midst of a stretch where seven of eight opponents have sub-.500 records.
While things are running smoothly right now for the Raptors, the schedule will remain light but there are still pitfalls ahead according to Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun.
Kyle Lowry may return to the lineup tonight and with the Raptors in a groove, he will likely come off the bench.
Ganter cautions that the veteran point guard may not react well to losing the starting job for the third time in his career.
The same could be said for Andrea Bargnani’s reaction once he is able to return from his elbow injury although we are still a ways off from having to worry about that.
Magic forward Glen Davis suffered a shoulder injury on Wednesday and after an MRI on Thursday morning, general manager Rob Hennigan announced there was “no significant structural damage.”
The team did not commit to a time frame for Davis’ return, but it does leave a spot open in the starting lineup for Canadian rookie power forward Andrew Nicholson.
The Magic could also give the nod to Gustavo Ayon, Josh McRoberts or another rookie, Kyle O’Quinn
Whatever the choice, Nicholson should see an increased role until Davis returns.