The Toronto Raptors have been vulnerable lately when their defense struggles.
The San Antonio Spurs have already completely overwhelmed that unit once this season.
The Spurs, who scored their most points of the season against the Raptors two months ago, look to win six straight for the first time in more than a year Sunday at Air Canada Centre, as Toronto’s Chris Bosh(notes) tries to become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.
San Antonio (20-11) is coming off a 97-86 win over Washington on Saturday, behind Tim Duncan’s(notes) 23 points and a season-high 20 from Roger Mason(notes) Jr. The Spurs won their fifth in a row and improved to 11-2 since Dec. 9 after opening the season 9-9.
The offense has keyed San Antonio’s surge, averaging 105.8 points on 52.3 percent shooting in the last five games. The Spurs haven’t won six consecutive games since Dec. 4-14, 2008.
Despite its solid play over the past few weeks, this San Antonio team that strives for perfection isn’t satisfied.
“We’re not where we want to be, obviously,” Duncan said. “We need some big wins on the road. We need to beat some of the good teams on the road. Once we start doing that, our confidence will build. … There are still a lot of hiccups throughout the game.”
As well as San Antonio’s offense has been playing lately, it was nearly unstoppable against the Raptors (16-18) on Nov. 9.
Playing without Duncan and Tony Parker(notes), who were both out with left ankle injuries, the Spurs beat Toronto 131-124. It was the most points scored by San Antonio in a non-overtime game since Gregg Popovich took over as coach in December 1996.
Manu Ginobili(notes) led the way with 36 points and eight assists, while Richard Jefferson(notes) added 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Spurs, who were 14 of 28 from 3-point range.
The Raptors have one of the worst defenses in the league, allowing an average of 105.7 points, and defensive play has determined their fate in recent games. Toronto has won eight of 13, yielding 87.9 points in the eight victories, compared to 112.8 points in the defeats.
The Raptors saw their season-high five-game winning end with a 103-96 loss to Boston on Saturday, as they allowed a Celtics team playing without Paul Pierce(notes) and Kevin Garnett(notes) to shoot 51.4 percent from the floor.
Bosh finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds against the Spurs in November, but some of that could have to do with Duncan being out of the lineup.
The Toronto power forward is averaging 31.0 points on 55.9 percent shooting in two career games against San Antonio when Duncan is out, compared to 13.5 points on 39.1 percent shooting in 10 career games against the Spurs with the 11-time All-Star in the lineup.
Duncan, meanwhile, is averaging 22.0 points on 60.6 percent shooting and 11.0 rebounds in his last seven games against the Raptors.
San Antonio has won 10 of its last 13 meetings against Toronto.