Folks. Toronto Raptors basketball is back. I don’t have much more in the way of preamble – we talked a lot this morning, have spent a week gearing up toward tonight, and are closing the book on two or three months of NBA starvation. I’m going to relent with the usual thoughts-of-the-day preamble in this space, drink the customary late-start Monster, and await some important updates I can pass along your way.
The game tips off at 10 on Sportsnet One. You can check out the full game preview here.
I don’t really feel like I should rehash everything I wrote in the preview, because if you’re reading this at 9 p.m., you surely read the preview earlier, as eager as I am to get going again. Plus, it’s been all the talk of camp so far. The battles, the questions, a big decision for head coach Dwane Casey in his starting lineup. We’ll simply hit pause for now and suggest you check back closer to tip-off for a confirmed starting lineup and a status on OG Anunoby (who I believe is a go but don’t want to assume in case they only want him in team scrimmages for the time being or something).
Outside of the rotations, the obvious thing to watch for will be how the offense functions. How is the ball being spread around? Are they shooting threes as freely as the open scrimmage might suggest? Are Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan continuing to grow not just as playmakers when attention comes but manipulators who anticipate that attention and coerce it to the advantage of their teammates? And of course, they’ll run more of their motion offense, as they always do in the preseason. This should be a lot of fun.
UPDATE: Per the legend Doug Smith, C.J. Miles draws the first start at SF. As I’ve written a few times (but not in enough detail yet), there’s a good case to be made for Miles and a good case to be made for Norman Powell, depending on how you prefer to balance units and your own risk-tolerance on the spacing-defense trade-off. It’ll be interesting to see how Miles looks, especially against a large wing like Danilo Gallinari on the other side.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 2, 2017
Some additional, non-representative context for those who want Powell to have a large offensive role this year:
Can't extrapolate from last year obviously, so just because: Norm's usage w/ DDR+KL was 17.5%, 18.8% w/ just one, 30% w/ neither (428min).
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) October 2, 2017
UPDATE II: OG Anunoby will not be playing, once again per Smith. This is likely the team just taking extra precautions as he ramps his activity back up and works the rust off. Plus, there are 18 other guys to get minutes for, too. They might need to stagger games, anyway.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet, Lorenzo Brown
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell, K.J. McDaniels, Andy Rautins
SF: C.J. Miles, Bruno Caboclo, Alfonzo McKinnie
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Wiltjer
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira, Kennedy Meeks
INJ: OG Anunoby, Malcolm Miller
As usual, we’ll track the minutes and battles in this space, noting how the playing time is breaking down over the five games:
Known commodities: Lowry, DeRozan, Ibaka, Valanciunas
Competition 1: Powell, Miles
Competition 2: Poeltl, Nogueira
Competition 3 (maybe?): Wright, VanVleet
Competition 4: McKinnie, McDaniels, Wiltjer, Rautins, Meeks
The LeBron Stoppers: Anunoby, Siakam, Caboclo
Two-Ways: Brown, Miller
The Clippers have the same kind of questions as the Raptors, which we covered in the preview earlier. The starter-bench question looms at the guard spots, a few young guys are jockeying for second-unit time, and their offense should look noticeably different from the last few years. Sounds familiar, right?
Elsewhere, the Clippers are in extension talks with DeAndre Jordan, per the Los Angeles Times, which isn’t particularly relevant to tonight but I find myself constantly monitoring the league-wide center market (shouts to the richest of the Plumslee, getting that Valanciunas money). Jordan is making $22.6 million this season and has a player option for $24.1 million for next year that he would seem likely to decline.
Here’s roughly how things look ahead of the season:
PG: Patrick Beverley, Milos Teodosic, Jawun Evans, Tyrone Wallace
SG: Austin Rivers, Lou Williams, Sindarius Thornwell, C.J. Williams
SF: Danilo Gallinari, Wesley Johnson, Sam Dekker, LaDontae Henton, Jamil Wilson
PF: Blake Griffin, Montrezl Harrell, Brice Johnson
C: DeAndre Jordan, Marshall Plumlee, Willie Reed
- It feels extremely good to be back.
- That doesn’t mean I’m not extremely jealous of the Raptors (and staff) in Hawaii the last few days. Instagram’s been killing me. Would give up my right-hand dribble to be able to get a hike in on those mountains. And that’s saying a lot, because I already can’t dribble with my left.
- We’ll have you covered with pre-game, quick reaction, reaction podcast, and morning recap for all five of the exhibition games. We have to treat the preseason like a preseason for us, too. Iron out the kinks, introduce some new pieces, try some new sets and then revert to the exact way we’ve been playing the last few years anyway. You know how it goes.
- Candace Parker the god.
- I didn’t know where else to put this, so I’ll just bury it here as an Easter Egg for anyone reading a West Coast Sunday Night Preseason Pre-Game News & Notes post: As I’ve passed along in the past, Drake’s original deal with the Raptors spanned four years, which means through the 2016-17 season. I can’t confirm whether that deal was extended or re-upped, but the partnership between Drake and the Raptors is once again a “multi-year” one. Expect Drake Night V and the usual OVO tie-in to be announced sometime around the turn of the calendar.
- All of the coaching staffs are wearing Hawaiian shirts.
- Once again per Doug Smith, the players on both teams locked arms during the anthems.
The line, as with most preseason games, is off the board. Just not a lot of money coming in for exhibitions where 38 guys might play, I guess. For shame, Vegas.