Warriors-Raptors Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 03, 2012
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Although facing the Toronto Raptors usually brings out the best in Golden State, it might not be enough to get the Warriors' struggling offense on track in the season's first meeting. Golden State, which could again be without Stephen Curry, hopes to break out of its funk Sunday night against a Toronto team playing much better defense under first-year coach Dwane Casey. After averaging 104.3 points in winning two of three games prior to the All-Star break, the Warriors (14-19) have since averaged 82.0 points on 38.4 percent shooting in dropping two of three. Against Philadelphia on Friday, Golden State trailed by three points at halftime but scored just 36 in the second half of a 105-83 loss. "We have to be on all the time," coach Mark Jackson said. "We have to be aggressive. We have to play with force." Part of the reason for Golden State's sluggish offense stems from Curry's injured right foot. Curry, third on the team with 15.7 points per game, has played all of three seconds in the last three contests and could be sidelined again. Sitting out Sunday could be trouble for Golden State because Curry's career average of 30.3 points in four games versus the Raptors is easily his best against any team. Led by Curry's scoring exploits, the Warriors have averaged 120.2 points in winning the last five meetings with the Raptors. It's their longest active winning streak over any opponent. Monta Ellis also has played a big part in Golden State's success in this series, having scored 55 points on 55.9 percent shooting in two meetings last season. His 24.1 career scoring average versus the Raptors is his second-highest against any opponent. While Golden State has regularly frustrated Toronto, winning 10 of 12 meetings since 2005-06, its offense - with or without Curry - could have problems this time. The Raptors (11-25) are yielding an average of 94.1 points - 11.3 less than last season - and are 7-4 when holding an opponent to 92 or fewer. They had allowed an average of 88.3 points on 39.3 percent shooting over a three-game stretch before Friday's 102-99 loss to Memphis, their ninth defeat in 12 games. Toronto had a chance to tie the game, but Jose Calderon's 3-point attempt bounced off the rim with four seconds left and saddled the Raptors with another painful loss. Five of Toronto's past eight defeats have been by three points or fewer. The Raptors haven't lost by more than seven points since a 100-64 blowout at Boston on Feb. 1. "Somewhere the basketball gods are waiting for us to make those plays, to be good to us," Casey said. "Right now, and I've seen a lot of NBA games, we're doing everything to win the games except winning games." Jerryd Bayless led six Raptors in double figures Friday with 18 points to equal his point total from his previous four games. DeMar DeRozan was held to four points after averaging 22.8 in his final five games of February.
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