The Portland Trail Blazers play the Toronto Raptors on Monday. Here are three things to watch out for in the inter-conference battle.
The Portland Trail Blazers play the Toronto Raptors on Monday in an inter-conference matchup. The Blazers are five and four at this point in the season, after winning their last two games over the and Sacramento Kings. While the Raptors have had a surprisingly slow start to the season, they are just two and seven.
Here are three things to watch out for in this game.
Things to watch for Portland Trail Blazers vs Raptors: Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony was a key part of the Blazers 2020 team, but this season, with a slightly reduced role, he has been patchy. He has had a couple of strong games, but his mid-range jumper hasn’t been dropping yet.
More pleasingly, Melo’s three-ball has been dropping early on, so it would be great to see him play off-ball a bit more and get chances to knock down threes as a spot-up shooter.
In the 2020 season, Melo was devastating as a spot-up shooter. In the bubble, he hit more clutch shots than any other player in the NBA. If his mid-range shot isn’t going down, it would be great to see him getting more off-ball opportunities.
As we detailed in a breakdown last week, he has a new role off the bench that he is getting accustomed to.
Things to watch for Portland Trail Blazers vs Raptors: Can CJ McCollum hot streak
Before the games on the previous day to the Raptors matchup, CJ McCollum led the league in three-point makes. Though McCollum has always been a great shooter, he has never attempted three-pointers at the rate that we have seen from him this season.
It makes sense though, that he has changed his shot profile. McCollum is only around 185 pounds, and he doesn’t have a big wingspan like other guys such as Steph Curry. So shooting more threes, rather than trying to finish at the rim, is a smart option.
Through nine games, McCollum is averaging an impressive 44.4 percent from three, on a whopping 11.5 attempts a night. This is double his career average. If McCollum continues on this hot streak, then he will be an All-Star in 2021.
Things to watch for Portland Trail Blazers vs Raptors: Will TOR get on track?
The Raptors made the conference finals in 2020, and won the NBA title in 2019. But this season, with some personnel changes, they are just two and six.
Their slow start has mainly been attributed to their poor three-point shooting, and a defense that hasn’t been as strong as we would come to expect.
The Raptors are too good to just have a two and seven record at this point in the season. I expect them to bounce back at some point and be in the upper tiers of the Eastern Conference.