It’s been about 48 hours since the Toronto Raptors topped the Los Angeles Clippers in a fun preseason opener. They’ll look to do the same again tonight while most Raptors fans are either sleeping or fighting to stay awake, weary of the morning that is to follow. A 1 a.m. tip-off time is something else. There’s little sense complaining, though – basketball is back, and a little less sleep has hardly been an impediment to consuming it in vast amounts in the past. Plus, Michael Beasley and the AL Wild Card game were around to get us through to 1. And caffeine. So much caffeine.
What you’re looking for from the Raptors tonight is three-fold: Whether they continue to fire up 3-point attempts at a ludicrous pace or whether that was a two-session blip to get everyone into the shoot-when-open mentality; If the notable improvements in willingness to pass that have been on display for stretches continues, or if additional playing time sees the team regress a bit to its base state on offense; and whether any of the players in position battles get a second consecutive shot at locking them down, or if head coach Dwane Casey is, in fact, trying to get longer looks at a few different guys, effectively flipping some of the second unit in tonight’s game.
And any other reasons for optimism. Obviously. It’s all about the optimism right now.
The game tips off at 1 a.m. on TSN 1 and 4. You can check out the full game preview here.
Last time out, we saw C.J. Miles start at the small forward position while Norman Powell led a youth-heavy second unit. Powell won’t get a turn at starting or solidifying himself as the sixth man here, as he’s dealing with what the team is calling a right ankle strain. That should open up plenty of opportunity on the wing for K.J. McDaniels, Andy Rautins, Bruno Caboclo, and Alfonzo McKinnie, not to mention OG Anunoby if he plays (his status is yet to be confirmed).
Joining Powell on the sidelines will be Kyle Lowry, who is resting. In other words, he’s already over the preseason, he’s ready to go, and the team wouldn’t mind longer looks at Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet as they look to step into much bigger roles this season. Nothing to panic about here. You can probably expect DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka to sit at some point, too, as the Raptors look to get 20 players involved and keep their stars fresh ahead of Oct. 19.
PG: Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet, Lorenzo Brown
SG: DeMar DeRozan, K.J. McDaniels, Andy Rautins
SF: C.J. Miles, Bruno Caboclo, Alfonzo McKinnie, (OG Anunoby)
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Kyle Wiltjer
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Lucas Nogueira, Jakob Poeltl, Kennedy Meeks
TBD: OG Anunoby
OUT: Malcolm Miller, Norman Powell, Kyle Lowry
Check back for a firm update on starters and Anunoby.
As usual, we’ll track the minutes and battles in this space, noting how the playing time is breaking down over the five games. It doesn’t necessarily mean someone is ahead because they’ve played more, it’s simply meant as a refresher.
Known commodities: Lowry 20ish, DeRozan 20ish, Ibaka 19, Valanciunas 20
Competition 1: Miles 18, Powell 20ish
Competition 2: Nogueira 21, Poeltl 7
Competition 3 (maybe?): Wright 22ish, VanVleet 12
Competition 4: McKinnie 7, Rautins 5, Wiltjer 4, McDaniels 0, Meeks 0
The LeBron Stoppers: Siakam 24, Caboclo 20, Anunoby 0
Two-Ways: Brown 0, Miller 0
While the Raptors escaped the preseason opener unharmed, the Clippers got a little dinged up Austin Rivers is out tonight due to a strained glute, which sounds immensely uncomfortable. Brad Turner reports that walking basketball miracle Milos Teodosic is expected to start in his place. Doc Rivers will probably stagger his point guards some, but Teodosic’s fit with the starters should be interesting to watch given the number of ball-handlers and imitators the team will have on the court at once. It should be no issue for Patrick Beverley, at least, who has ample experience working without the ball on the offensive end of the floor.
Here’s roughly how things look under the assumption Teodosic draws into a two-point guard starting lineup:
PG: Milos Teodosic, Jawun Evans, Tyrone Wallace
SG: Patrick Beverley, 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
INJ: Austin Rivers
- The NBA announced Tuesday that they have tweaked the format for the All-Star Game starting this year. At the suggestion of NBPA head Chris Paul, the league wanted to spice up the proceedings a bit, so we’re now done with East vs. West. Fans will still vote on rosters by conference, and each conference will still have the same number of players represented, but now teams will be determined by two captains picking sides.
- Yes, hockey tried this and it was pretty lame. Basketball is not hockey. There’s way more personality involved here, and way more potential for fun (and shade).
- An idea, if I may: Have the captains responsible for not only the Sunday team but the teams on Saturday and Friday night, too. That way, hypothetical captains could be forced with the decision of whether to pick a top teammate, a top rookie/sophomore, or maybe even the favorite in the Slam Dunk Contest to try to give them the best odds of winning the weekend overall.
- You can almost taste one of the Raptors being selected last and giving them a #ProveEm boost for the stretch run already.
- NBA Canada sent along the top-selling jerseys for NBAStore.com in Canada for the 2016-17 season:
- We’ve passed this along on Twitter, but if you follow us and @GetInTheAction and RT the post below, you’ll have a chance to win two tickets to the home opener. No strings attached other than following both accounts and RTing. We’re exploring more ways to be able to give stuff away during the season, so let’s give GetInTheAction a reason to keep hooking the RR community up.
- I didn’t know where else to put this, so I’ll repeat it from Sunday in case it was missed: 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.
The line, as with most preseason games, is off the board. Some others have lines, though, and it’s making me jealous we can’t pretend bet on this one.