DeRozan’s Return To Toronto Will Not Go Well For Spurs On Friday

Thursday, February 21, 2019 6:50 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 6:50 PM UTC

DeMar DeRozan makes his first return to Toronto on Friday night since a huge summer trade as the San Antonio Spurs and Raptors square off on ESPN.

San Antonio (33-26 SU, 31-27-1 ATS) at Toronto (43-16 SU, 26-33 ATS)

Friday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Free NBA Pick: Raptors ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Clearly the biggest story line Friday around the NBA as 18 more teams play their first game out of the All-Star break is former Raptors All-Star and fan-favorite DeMar DeRozan returning to Toronto for the first time since his stunning trade to San Antonio.

Many players wear out their welcome in cities and demand a trade – Anthony Davis with New Orleans and current Raptor Kawhi Leonard in San Antonio to name two. No one ever thought Leonard might end up north of the border. Why would DeRozan even be made available? In July 2016, DeRozan signed a five-year, $139 million extension with the team and had this to say after:

"I am Toronto. Outside of where I'm from, I represent this city harder than anybody. I've got so many goals I want to accomplish still. I just can't wait to put that jersey back on and keep going."

You know how rare that is? Sure, guys want to play in Los Angeles or Miami, but a star dedicating his prime to play in Toronto? Yet, on the morning of July 18, he was traded along with Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick (which won’t convey and will end up being two second-rounders) for Leonard and Danny Green.

It’s not often a trade works out for both teams, but this one might have. Leonard is playing at an MVP level – he won’t win it due to too many missed games – and Green has been a solid contributor. The Raptors are battling for the No. 1 overall seed in the NBA playoffs. San Antonio is just seventh in the West, but that’s still better than most projected and DeRozan is having maybe his best season in averaging 21.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists – the latter two would be career highs.

No doubt the Raptors will honor DeRozan – the franchise’s all-time points leader -- with some sort of tribute and he should be warmly welcomed by the fans.

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Good times last night

19 Pts | 5 Rebs | 50 FG%#WeTheNorth | #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/Gh1wN4h2bc

— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 18, 2019
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Bet Spurs Or Raptors ATS?

Leonard, meanwhile, was definitely not warmly welcomed by the Spurs faithful when the Raptors visited San Antonio on Jan. 3. He was booed all night and Toronto was routed 125-107. While Leonard had 21 points and five assists, he was minus-22. DeRozan had his first career triple-double (21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists) and was plus-16.

Currently, San Antonio is in the midst of its annual Rodeo Road Trip, this year eight games. The Spurs are 1-4 on it (0-5 ATS) but at least it was broken up by the All-Star break. They did win in Memphis in their last game. DeRozan was just 5-for-20 from the field for 12 points. Defensively, the Spurs are a shell of their former selves and have allowed at least 100 points in 17 straight games.

Toronto comes out of the break on a six-game winning streak that is the NBA’s best. The Raptors saw the debut of backup point guard Jeremy Lin in their final game before the break, a 129-120 win in Washington. Lin, who was bought out by the Hawks, had eight points, five assists and five rebounds in 25 minutes. He was needed with Delon Wright traded in the Marc Gasol deal and Fred VanVleet out a few weeks injured. Gasol has been coming off the bench.

Breakout star Pascal Siakam had 44 points vs. the Wizards, becoming just the 11th player in franchise history to score 40 or more points. Toronto has added more depth by signing guard Jodie Meeks to a 10-day contract. Good three-point shooter but hasn’t played this season since serving a 25-game suspension. Could debut here.

Toronto is an NBA-best 16-6 SU vs. the West this year and has won 13 of its past 14 at home. The Spurs, meanwhile, are the worst wager in the NBA right now. Leonard/Raptors will want payback for the first meeting and they win by double digits.

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