Thunder to visit the Raptors, who are hotter than you might realize
The Toronto Raptors (12-21) are not the worst team in the NBA. They're not even in the bottom three.
This could be good news for the Thunder, which owns Toronto's first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft if it falls between Nos. 4-14.
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Thunder at Raptors
When: Noon Sunday
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37/HD 722, DirecTV 679, Dish 441, U-Verse 754/HD 1754).
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM
Three things to know
* Starting with its game against Toronto, the Thunder will play 11 of the next 13 on the road.
* This is the second and final meeting this season between Oklahoma City and Toronto. The Thunder won the first meeting, 108-88, on Nov. 6 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
* The Thunder did not play in Toronto last year due to the lockout shortening the season. In 2010-11, the Thunder suffered a 111-99 defeat against the Raptors inside the Air Canada Centre.
Even with their 105-96 loss at home against Sacramento on Friday night, the Raptors have still won eight of their last 10 games, albeit it against weak competition. Toronto beat just two teams with winning records in that span, with home victories against Houston and Portland.
To their credit, the Raptors have succeeded despite injuries to multiple double-digit scorers: center Andrea Bargnani (16.0 ppg) has missed the last 12 games with an elbow injury; point guard Kyle Lowery (15.5 ppg; 6.0 assists; 5.1 rebounds) previously missed 13 games due to various injuries; guard Alan Anderson (11.1) has returned after previously missing 17 games.
The Thunder (25-7) plays the Raptors at noon Sunday at Air Canada Centre.
As part of the James Harden trade on Oct. 27, the Thunder acquired two protected first-round draft picks from Houston via the Rockets' previous dealings with Toronto and Dallas.
The first-round pick via Toronto is protected through the 2017 NBA Draft with the following parameters:
*In 2013, the selection is protected for Nos. 1-3 and 15-30, leaving Nos. 4-14 for OKC.
*In 2014 and 2015, the selection is protected for Nos. 1 and 2 and 15-30, leaving Nos. 3-14 for the Thunder.
*In 2016 and 2017, the selection is protected for the No. 1 pick and 15-30, leaving Nos. 2-15 for OKC.
*In 2018, the selection becomes unprotected, which means the Thunder will receive the Raptors' selection regardless of where it is if it hasn't already been awarded from 2013-17.
The first-round pick via Dallas is protected Nos. 1-20 in 2013, and unprotected in 2014.
OKC also received Charlotte's second-round pick in 2013, which is unprotected.
Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins had a fearful free-throw forecast prior to Friday night's 109-85 loss to the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“The key thing is can you keep them off the foul line?” said Collins, fearing the worst.
OKC had 20 more free-throw attempts (37-17) in its overtime road victory against the Sixers on Nov. 24 and had 19 more attempts (27-8) on Friday.
A sampling of Collins' pregame scouting report on the Thunder: