Cincinnati.com
National Basketball Association
Preview
Toronto at Denver
When: 8:00 PM ET, Sunday, December 16, 2018
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

The Toronto Raptors' hopes of a perfect four-game road trip came to an end at Portland on Friday, but they could still head home with a winning record on the excursion. The Raptors will try to finish on a high note when they visit the Denver Nuggets on Sunday in a battle of conference leaders.

Toronto, which sits atop the Eastern Conference and owns the best record in the NBA at 23-8, breezed by the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors on the first two stops of the trip before falling at the Trail Blazers 128-122 on Friday. Star forward Kawhi Leonard, who sat out the first two games of the trip with a hip injury, returned to the lineup at Portland but All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry (thigh) missed the game and is day-to-day. The Nuggets are the improbable leaders of a tightly-packed Western Conference and are winners of five straight at home after knocking off Memphis and Oklahoma City to begin the current four-game stand. Denver is dealing with its own injury issues and was without two starters - power forward Paul Millsap (toe) and guard Gary Harris Jr. (hip) - in Friday's 109-98 triumph over the Thunder.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, TSN2 (Toronto), Altitude (Denver)

ABOUT THE RAPTORS (23-8): Toronto already lost center Jonas Valanciunas for at least four weeks due to a thumb injury on the trip and watched power forward Pascal Siakam leave Friday's contest with a sore back after coming down on his tailbone in a fall. Siakam, who is enjoying a breakout campaign while averaging a career-best 14.4 points, is questionable for Sunday along with Lowry. Fred VanVleet started at point guard in place of Lowry on Friday and scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting while handing out eight assists.

ABOUT THE NUGGETS (19-9): Denver heaps more responsibility on center Nikola Jokic when someone goes down and he continues to deliver. The 23-year-old came up an assist shy of a triple-double in his fourth consecutive double-double on Friday, collecting 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting, 15 rebounds and nine assists while adding three steals to a defensive effort that held Oklahoma City to 41.1 percent from the floor. Jokic got some help on the outside from small forward Torrey Craig, who scored a career-high 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Nuggets SG Nick Young made his team debut on Friday after being signed earlier in the week and scored six points in nine minutes off the bench.

2. Raptors SG Danny Green went 5-of-7 from 3-point range en route to a season-high 19 points on Friday.

3. Jokic collected 23 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds in a 106-103 win at Toronto on Dec. 3.

PREDICTION: Raptors 113, Nuggets 111
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div Conf
Toronto 23-8 L1 11-4 12-4 1-0 22-8 4-2 13-5
Denver 19-9 W2 11-3 8-6 0-0 19-9 5-0 12-4
Last Meeting
Toronto Denver
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
12/3/18 DEN 106 TOR 103 103 41 46.0 106 49 44.9
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Toronto K. Leonard 27 52.6 6
Denver N. Jokic 23 61.5 7
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Toronto J. Valanciunas 10 1 9
Denver N. Jokic 11 4 7
Assists Player  
Toronto K. Lowry 11
Denver N. Jokic 15
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Toronto K. Leonard 642 48.0 151
Denver N. Jokic 539 48.5 119
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Toronto J. Valanciunas 239 65 174
Denver N. Jokic 297 75 222
Assists Player  
Toronto K. Lowry 298
Denver N. Jokic 229
Quickchart Matchup
Toronto Toronto Off vs  Denver Denver Defense
Toronto Off vs Denver - Points For 115.8 Points For
Toronto Off vs Denver - Points Against 103.5 Points Against
Toronto - FG% 48.7 FG%
Denver - FG% 44.7 FG%
Toronto - Reb 45.5 Reb
Denver - Reb 41.9 Reb
Denver Denver Off vs  Toronto Toronto Defense
Denver Off vs Toronto - Points For 109.9 Points For
Denver Off vs Toronto - Points Against 107.7 Points Against
Denver - FG% 46.3 FG%
Toronto - FG% 44.5 FG%
Denver - Reb 47.2 Reb
Toronto - Reb 44.2 Reb