Date & Time: Friday, August 14th, 2020, 1:30 PM ET (11:00 PM IST)
Venue: The Field House, Disney World, Orlando, FL
In a battle of powerhouse teams, the third seed of the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets take on the second seed of the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors. Since both teams have guaranteed their respective spots in the standings, we expect them to bench their starters for this game.
Denver Nuggets preview
Despite their 124-111 loss against the LA Clippers, the Denver Nuggets are looking stronger day-by-day since Jamal Murray 's return. With their third seed confirmed, the Denver Nuggets might rest Nikola Jokic ahead of the playoffs.
Jokic and Murray have been performing well together, hitting their stride immediately. The rise of Michael Porter Jr. in the NBA bubble has been a marvel to watch. The Denver Nuggets have performed well despite being without two starters, Will Barton and Gary Harris.
The Denver Nuggets bench strength has been on display with Jerami Grant posting three consecutive 20 point games and P.J. Dozier handling the ball in clutch moments. The Denver Nuggets are likely to allow their bench players to take up leading roles in the upcoming game against the Toronto Raptors.
Key player - Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr. has finally revealed his true potential in the NBA bubble. With his back injuries finally behind him, the young star has shown that the Denver Nuggets made the right choice in drafting him. He has been averaging 22 points a game for the Nuggets in the seeding games so far as opposed to his 9.3 points a game this season.
His sudden emergence has given the Denver Nuggets a lot of useful production despite missing several starters. His match-up against the Toronto Raptors' interior defenders will be something to look out for in this game.
Keep in mind the Denver Nuggets might not allow some of their stars to participate in this game. Here is our predicted starting five.
Denver Nuggets predicted lineup
Jamal Murray, Torrey Craig, Michael Porter Jr., Jerami Grant, Nikola Jokic/Mason Plumlee
Toronto Raptors preview
The Toronto Raptors are coming fresh off a 125-121 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers. With their bench coming to life down the stretch, they stole a victory from the 76ers.
Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam have been playing at an elite level on both ends of the floor. Chris Boucher has been putting up some great numbers for the Toronto Raptors off the bench in the seeding games. While Marc Gasol has struggled a bit, we can expect him to bounce back come playoff time.
OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka sat out the game against the 76ers. The Toronto Raptors will likely give their bench players extended minutes against the Denver Nuggets to rest their starters for the playoffs.
Key player - Norman Powell
With the starters not expected to play extended minutes, the Toronto Raptors will need Normal Powell to lead the second-unit against the Denver Nuggets. Powell has been having a career year averaging 16 points on 49.2% shooting from the field.
In the bubble, he has provided crucial contributions off the bench including a 21 point game in the win against the Milwaukee Bucks. His playoff experience in last year's championship run has led to his explosion this season. He will be key to the Raptors' chances in this game.
While we cannot be sure about which players will be rested, here is our prediction of the starting five.
Toronto Raptors predicted lineup
Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol
Denver Nuggets vs Toronto Raptors Match Prediction
The Toronto Raptors have the slight edge in this game since they have a more experienced side. This game will test both teams' bench strength. While the Denver Nuggets have performed admirably so far, they have been dependant on Jokic to be the primary playmaker. If he sits out, they will need Bol Bol and Michael Porter Jr. to take on his responsibilities. Jamal Murray may also be rested for this game.
The Toronto Raptors, on the other hand, have experience playing without key players which have made them one of the strongest sides in terms of bench strength. The bench players such as Chris Boucher have risen to the occasion, taking over in the fourth quarter in several seeding games.
This game will eventually be decided by the teams' lineup choices. The Toronto Raptors have the edge but the Denver Nuggets will not be too far behind what we expect to be a close game.
Where to watch Nuggets vs Raptors?
Local coverage of the match can be seen on Altitude Sports and TSN. This game will not be broadcast on national television. You can also live stream the fixture via NBA League Pass.
Published 13 Aug 2020, 10:28 IST