Getting Their Groove Back

The Toronto Raptors seem to be getting back into a groove after struggling in recent weeks. No team has been able to bounce back from failure as well as the Portland Trail Blazers.

Starting their longest road trip of the season, the red-hot Blazers look to sweep their season series with the Raptors when the teams meet Sunday afternoon.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Toronto -4.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 187 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Portland +4.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Portland (22-13) has won 17 of its last 18 games after opening the season 5-12. The Blazers were in the midst of a 13-game winning streak when they beat Toronto 101-96 on Dec. 19.

That loss was the beginning of a slump for the Raptors, who went on to lose their next two and five of seven before finally showing signs of breaking out with wins in their last two contests. They will be trying to win three straight for the first time since a four-game run in December, but will be facing the league's hottest team.

Portland has even been strong on the road, winning five of six after losing its first nine away from the Rose Garden. This is the opener of a seven-game road trip for the Blazers.

"We are not the same young team that started the year," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "We're more controlled in what we do. We're confident and we expect to win games and it seems like different people step up."

The Blazers have been paced by second-year guard Brandon Roy, who is averaging 18.7 points, 5.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game. Roy left Wednesday night's 109-91 win over Golden State after he appeared to injure his right knee, but returned to the game and started the second half.

Roy, last season's NBA Rookie of the Year, sat out most of the Blazers' previous game against Utah because of a tailbone bruise. He is expected to play Sunday.

Roy finished with eight points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes Wednesday. Steve Blake, Roy's backcourt mate, had a big game, scoring a career-high 24 points, but left in the second half after being knocked to the court when Warriors guard Monta Ellis ran into him.

Blake was clutching his calf and did not return. Portland said Blake has a contusion, and his status for Sunday's game is uncertain.

Roy and Blake combined for 39 points in this season's first matchup with Toronto (19-17). Chris Bosh finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Raptors in that contest, and is coming off one of the best games of his career.

Bosh had 40 points and 11 rebounds to lead Toronto to a 99-90 win at New York on Friday night, finishing two points shy of his career high, set against Phoenix on Dec. 22.

Bosh is averaging 27.2 points in his last five games.

Raptors second-leading scorer Jose Calderon finished with nine points and eight assists Friday. In December's matchup with the Blazers, Calderon had 19 points and nine assists.

The third-year guard is averaging 11.6 points and 8.3 assists per game.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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