At long last, the Toronto Raptors are back at the Air Canada Centre. After a 3-3 trip away, they return home to host the Washington Wizards, a dangerous offensive team mired in a mini-slump and without their best player. The Raptors are talking up the need to not let this be a trap game as a result, with the natural instinct to get comfortable back at home against a beatable opponent.
“This is the toughest game, the scariest game, just because of energy level, time changes,” head coach Dwane Casey said before the game. “The energy level, feeling sorry for ourselves, saying oh we’re a little tired or whatever, that’s what we’ve gotta fight as much as a talented Washington Wizards team who’s coming in upset and angry they lost what, four out of five. Today is about our energy level, our fight, our toughness, our mental toughness, and fighting through the age-old excuse of coming back home and thinking that home’s gonna take care of you, and it doesn’t unless you take care of it with fight, with energy, with all-out play.”
If nothing else, it’ll probably feel good to be playing on their own floor for the first time in two weeks.
The game tips off at 6 on TSN 4 and Sportsnet 590. You can check out the full game preview here.
After another short departure from it, the Raptors are back to a full squad here. C.J. Miles still isn’t 100 percent from the illness that’s been draining him since the Denver game, but he’ll play here. Delon Wright, who appeared to aggravate his shoulder Friday, is also good to go, and Casey gave the all-clear on the entire roster.
That means there will be a minutes crunch, with maybe two of the 12 players who have been in the rotation of late coming up on the short end here. The starters are what they are, Wright and Miles are mostly certainties, and there are four good, young frontcourt players fighting for a finite number of bench minutes.
“A lot of equal, talented guys, which is an issue, finding the right minutes,” Casey said. “There’s gonna be nights where somebody’s just gonna get the short straw, which is unfortunate, because all the guys, OG, Pascal, all of those guys, Jak, have been playing really, really well. But it’s just almost impossible – other than fighting altitude and getting extra bodies in there – to play that many people. Now you’ve got C.J. coming back. It’s the people who are performing and playing who are gonna determine those minutes.”
It would seem likely that one of the young forwards and one of the backup centers draw out of the rotation here, unless Casey opts to super-size the second unit and keep room for one of them by bumping Fred VanVleet. Whatever he decides, people will probably be angry, but there’s just no way to play 12 guys with any regularity and expect rhythm and chemistry.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet
SG: DeMar DeRozan
SF: Norman Powell, C.J. Miles, Alfonzo McKinnie
PF: Serge Ibaka, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Bruno Caboclo
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira
905: Malcolm Miller, Lorenzo Brown
What a point guard battle this may end up being! John Wall is dealing with shoulder soreness and had his left arm in a sling Friday night. There is no structural damage but David Aldridge reported early Sunday that Wall will sit due to the sprain. Making matters worse for Washington, Candace Buckner reports that Tim Frazier has a sprained left wrist and his status is up in the air for this one. The Wizards only carry two natural point guards, and while Tomas Satoransky has seen time there and looked moderately comfortable, they’d figure to go ball-handler by committee if both are out. Bradley Beal, Jodie Meeks, and even some of the forwards could see a lot more time in an initiating role.
The most interesting lineup the Wizards might be able to try is one without a true point guard but a ton of length and perimeter switchability. If they slid Beal to the de facto point guard slot and started Oubre, they might have enough ball-handling around the floor to get by while opening up some interesting mismatches. The Raptors would probably respond by continuing to switch aggressively, and we’d figure to see a lot of Kyle Lowry defending a bigger player in the post as Washington hunts that kind of switch. Wall being out is obviously a big plus for Toronto, there’s just some fun things Washington might be able to try in response.
UPDATE: Frazier will play and start.
PG: Tim Frazier, Tomas Satoransky
SG: Bradley Beal, Jodie Meeks
SF: Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre
PF: Markieff Morris, Mike Scott, Jason Smith, Chris McCullough
C: Marcin Gortat, Ian Mahinmi
OUT: Sheldon Mac, John Wall
TBD: Tim Frazier
G-League (no affiliate): Devin Robinson, Mike Young
- Raptors 905 opened their season with a loss this afternoon. They were shorthanded, down to just eight players due to four early season injuries, but fought hard in coming back from down 19 and nearly stealing it from Grand Rapids at the end. Lorenzo Brown was really good, and Edy Tavares was Edy Tavares.
- Malcolm Miller did not play but was cleared for full-court five-on-five earlier this week. He should be in the lineup soon.
- The Raptors have two more at home before hitting the road again for three. Later this month we’re giving away another pair of tickets with InTheActionSeats.com:
— Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) October 21, 2017
The Raptors opened as 4.5-point favorites and the line has since pushed to Raptors -6 with the news of John Wall’s absence. It might even tick higher if Tim Frazier is out and the Raptors confirm a full squad. The over-under has come down from 217 to 214.5.