Today marks Lonzo Ball’s 20th birthday. Were Saturday’s game in Canada, the Los Angeles Lakers rookie might be liable to have that White Vegas Flu that sometimes goes around here. Since it’s in L.A., and no underaged person would ever do alcohol, the Toronto Raptors will probably have to deal with a full-bore, triple-double flirting point guard with size, one who’s off to a decent start to his pro career. All eyes will be on him – thanks, dad – as will the defensive focus. Ball is a lot of fun, a gifted passer with incredible zip on an array of creative dishes, but the Raptors can slow him down, daring him to shoot and exploiting that size is his only real asset on the defensive end. Delon Wright even bit his tongue with a smile last week asked about the matchup.
What I’m saying is this: It’s 10:30 on a Friday night. If you’re watching this game live, you’re a real one. And the game will probably reward you for it – it should have a brisk pace, a lot of scoring, some good storylines (like a chunk of the roster being in their home state), interesting matchups, and, most notably after two very tough losses, a very winnable game. I’m happy to be spending another Friday night with you.
“Of course we’re upset that we lost but four or five games in the season is too early for that.” – DC on if frustration has set in. pic.twitter.com/FfNukdtw1U
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 28, 2017
The game tips off at 10:30 on Sportsnet One and TSN 1050. You can check out the full game preview here.
The game notes that went up online a little after shootaround provided a bit of clarity ahead of the game, ruling Jonas Valanciunas out and Lucas Nogueira questionable. With two days off following this one, optimism should be growing that Valanciunas is nearing a return – he’s been on the team’s social media channels working out and looking as fine as someone can look in 10-second clips, and it will have been nine days since the injury when the Raptors next suit up. They won’t push it, of course, but it’s okay to start looking forward to it.
Whether Nogueira is able to go or not may not even matter. While the Lakers start big with Brook Lopez at center and have seven feet of Infowars available off the bench, they also play small groups with Julius Randle at center, and Jakob Poeltl more than held his own in a big role Wednesday. Between Poeltl, minutes with Serge Ibaka at center, rookie OG Anunoby, and sudden sparkplug Pascal Siakam all playing varying degrees of well, where Nogueira fits is unclear. It’s unfortunate that Nogueira hit a snag when he did, because he’s usually quite good when he gets to play; that’s not necessarily a reason to drop him right back into a starting spot when four other frontcourt players have made a case for playing time, too.
Elsewhere, things should mostly go to recent form, with the big question being whether Dwane Casey continues to roll with an all-bench unit that’s been pretty successful or if he looks to tighten the rotation any (the Lakers probably aren’t the opponent to warrant tightening against). Check back before tip-off for Nogueira’s status and a confirmation of the starters.
UPDATE: Siakam starts again. There’s no word on Nogueira. He could technically be active and only available in emergency, or even just out of the plans entirely.
UPDATE II: Nogueira is out again, per Grange. Sigh.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet
SG: DeMar DeRozan
SF: Norman Powell, C.J. Miles, Alfonzo McKinnie
PF: Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Bruno Caboclo
C: Serge Ibaka, Jakob Poeltl
OUT: Jonas Valanciunas, Lucas Nogueira
905: Malcolm Miller, Lorenzo Brown
The Lakers come in completely healthy, making their rotations fairly straightforward. They go about 10 deep, with Luke Walton revealing this week that Josh Hart has made a strong case for more playing time, possibly leaving Tyler Ennis out in the cold. He can hang with Luol Deng and a bunch of centers the Lakers don’t figure to use much here unless Walton really wants to try to lean into a potential size advantage instead of staying faster and switchier.
Nothing has changed since the preview went up, and Darius Soriano did a great job giving insight into some of the young Lakers, so I’ll refer you there for more.
A crew of Utes yukking it up pregame. That’s Jarred DuBois between Kyle Kuzma and Delon Wright. pic.twitter.com/eZPegceeO4
— Bill Oram (@billoram) October 28, 2017
PG: Lonzo Ball, Jordan Clarkson, Tyler Ennis
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Hart
SF: Brandon Ingram, Corey Brewer, Luol Deng
PF: Larry Nance, Kyle Kuzma
C: Brook Lopez, Julius Randle, Andrew Bogut, Ivica Zubac, Thomas Bryant
South Bay: Alex Caruso, Vander Blue
- I wrote something for Dime Magazine at Uproxx Sports, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s about C.J. Miles’ soundcloud rap, why he writes poems and songs, and finding himself in the booth for the first time.
- Another good piece from Michael Grange at Sportsnet, as he spoke to Kyle Lowry about the adjustment period with the new system.
- The Raptors are obviously away from home for a while, but later this month we’re giving away another pair of tickets with InTheActionSeats.com:
— Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) October 21, 2017
- Here’s a fun one! Among high-volume players so far this year, DeMar DeROzan is one of the most efficient scorers. Growth, man!
Here is a way-too-early look at the most efficient offensive players in the NBA so far this season. pic.twitter.com/yMUPN6Vtj8
— Synergy Sports Tech (@SynergySST) October 26, 2017
- Kyle Lowry is just 17 points from moving into fifth on the team’s all-time scoring list. Tonight is DeMar DeRozan’s 600th NBA game. And as Josh Lewenberg noted earlier, this is Delon Wright’s first time playing in his hometown thanks to injuries in his first two seasons.
The Raptors have held as six-point favorites all day. The over-under opened at 225 and quickly dropped into the 221-222 range, currently sitting at 221.5.