OAKLAND – Eager to shed the bitter memories of a Christmas Day loss in Cleveland, the Warriors return to the court to confront the team many consider the biggest Eastern Conference threat to the Cavaliers.
The Toronto Raptors, who have won 14 of their last 16 games, including the last four in a row, invade Oracle Arena on Wednesday night.
The Warriors (27-5), who play nine of their next 10 games at home, will try to extend to 119 their ongoing NBA record of consecutive regular-season games without back-to-back losses.
Toronto (22-8) is as tough an opponent as the Warriors have faced under these circumstances. Led by guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors own the NBA’s third-best road record (11-3) and have won seven in a row outside Toronto.
Warriors by 9.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Stephen Curry vs. Lowry -- It’s two premier point guards getting after each other. Curry has been playing below his standard of late, shooting 39.7 percent over his last four games. He tends to recover in spectacular fashion. Lowry is on a roll, scoring 86 points on 62.0-percent shooting over the last three games. If Curry can win this battle, it gives the Warriors a decided edge.
Warriors: No injuries listed.
Raptors: F Jared Sullinger (L foot surgery) and G Delon Wright (R shoulder surgery) are listed as out.
Warriors: 8-2. Raptors: 8-2.
The Warriors won the first meeting this season (127-121 on Nov. 16 in Toronto) and have won five in a row, nine of 11 and 17 of the last 21. The Warriors have won 11 straight in Oakland.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
1) Klay Thompson vs. DeMar DeRozan -- Just as Curry-Lowry features All-Star point guards, so does Thompson-DeRozan. DeRozan is the higher-scoring half of the NBA’s most offensively potent backcourt. Adding spice to the matchup is that the two are quite familiar with each other from their high school days in Southern California.
2) Warm up the scoreboard -- One of the few teams able match the Warriors’ offense, the Raptors have failed to reach 100 points only twice this season. The Warriors lead the league in field-goal percentage, and Toronto is second. The Raptors are tops in offensive rating, the Warriors are second.
3) Watch the charity -- The Raptors attack the rim, which is why they’re tied for fourth in free-throw attempts at 25.7 per game. More important, they are No. 1 in made free throws per game, at 20.7. Can the Warriors defend these slashers without fouling?