The best player in Toronto Raptors history is probably Chris Bosh, followed by Vince Carter and maybe current point guard Kyle Lowry. However, the franchise’s all-time points leader – among other categories – is DeMar DeRozan, and he makes his return to Toronto on Friday night for the first time since his stunning trade this summer to the San Antonio Spurs.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
In July, the Raptors sent their All-Star guard DeRozan along with young center Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 protected first-round pick to San Antonio for Spurs All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard, guard Danny Green and some cash. It might have been the rare trade to work out for both teams.
Leonard is the better overall player and is playing at an MVP level as he has the Raptors battling for the NBA’s best record. Green is also having a good year. DeRozan is having his probably best overall season and has San Antonio currently seventh in the West – still better than many projected following the trade.
DeRozan never wanted to leave Toronto and should be warmly welcomed by the home crowd, with the typical video tribute or what have you. DeRozan already got a bit of payback on his former club on January 3 in San Antonio as he put up the first triple-double of his career (21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists) in a 125-107 blowout victory in which Leonard was booed all night.
Toronto is on a six-game winning streak overall and 16-6 against teams from the Western Conference, which is the best mark by any team against the West this season. San Antonio, meanwhile, is on a near-impossible eight-game ATS losing streak (4-4 straight up). The Spurs are 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings and are 8-point underdogs for Friday.
Raptors-Spurs is the first of an ESPN doubleheader Friday, and the second is Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder. If the Western Conference playoffs started with the standings as they were coming out of the All-Star break, it would be the No. 3 Thunder against the No. 6 Jazz. The teams met in the first round of last year’s postseason, and Utah won in six games.
Oklahoma City is 2-0 against Utah this year, has taken five straight overall against the Jazz and has won 15 consecutive regular-season home games in the series. The Jazz are 1-4 ATS in their past five games in OKC. Utah opened as a 4-point underdog for this one.