Thursday, January 3 at 8:00 PM ET
Kawhi Leonard returns to San Antonio to face the Spurs for the first time since the big offseason trade that sent him to the Raptors for DeMar DeRozan.
Leonard returns to San Antonio after scoring his career-high
Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 45 points on 16 of 22 shooting, all without making a single 3-pointer on Tuesday's 122-116 win against the Jazz last Tuesday.
It was fitting that a year to the day after DeMar DeRozan scored a Raptors franchise-best 52 points, the man he was later traded for set his own new career-high.
DeRozan will face the Raptors for the first time since the stunning trade, his best friend Kyle Lowry, is listed as doubtful with a sore back that has forced him to miss eight of his last nine games and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich will seeLeonard for the first time since questioning his leadership, so there will be plenty of storylines in what should be a hard-fought game.
The mysterious circumstances surrounding Leonard missing most of last season and his unwillingness to discuss his issues with the Spurs have fans desperate for hints of indignation or vengefulness in Leonard's performance on the court, as he's playing some of his basketball this season.
Leonard was fourth in the NBA in scoring last month, averaging 29.1 points per game trailing only James Harden, Paul George and Anthony Davis and he's just the the third Raptor to ever average 28 or more points per game in a month, along with Vince Carter and DeRozan.
Kawhi Leonard leads the Raptors with 27.3 points per game and he has scored at least 20 points in a career-best 14 straight games.
DeRozan not emotional yet
DeMar DeRozan was stunned when he found out he was traded from the Raptors, the team he had been with in his first nine years in the league. Initially he did not take the trade well and felt betrayed by the Raptors but now he assured he hasn't gone through any emotions facing his former team.
"It's probably something you can ask me afterwards," DeRozan said to reporters recently. "I don't feel like it's going to be an emotional game. That's right now."
DeRozan is averaging 22.9 points, 6.3 assists, 5.9 assists and 1.0 steals in 38 games this season and he's put up 22.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.8 steals in his last five games.
The Toronto Raptors are:
4-9 ATS in their last 13 games playing on 1 days rest
3-7 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up win
3-7 ATS in their last 10 games when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game
1-4 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning straight up record
1-4 ATS in their last five games overall
1-5 ATS in their last six games following an ATS win
1-5 ATS in their last six games when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game
0-5 ATS in their last five games after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game
0-5 ATS in their last five road games
0-5 ATS in their last five games after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game
The San Antonio Spurs are:
6-0-1 ATS in their last seven games after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game
6-0 ATS in their last six games against a team with a winning percentage above .600
4-0 ATS in their last four games when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game
5-1 ATS in their last six Thursday games
5-1 ATS in their last six games following an ATS win
5-1 ATS in their last six games after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game
13-3 ATS in their last 16 home games against a team with a winning road record
DeRozan hasn't admitted it yet but this game clearly means more to him than to Leonard, he felt betrayed by the Raptors when they traded him after assuring him they wouldn't do that and he should have a big game, looking to prove them wrong and lead the Spurs to an epic win
NBA Pick: Spurs -120 at Jazz Sports
Check odds here: http://bit.ly/2RMxhhA