Another game, another elite point guard the Toronto Raptors will miss. John Wall has already missed two visits to Toronto, Chris Paul was out of the lineup when the Raptors visited Houston, and the Raptors’ loss to Boston came without Kyrie Irving on the opposing side.
Add Kemba Walker, a noted Raptor killer, to that list. Walker will miss Wednesday’s game with a shoulder injury, leaving the Charlotte Hornets at a noted disadvantage against a home side that’s had three days off with which to prepare for them. The Raptors can’t take the Hornets lightly, of course, but missing Walker is a big relief if all they’re concerned about is the victory – Walker has scored 115 points over his last four games against Toronto, with a very nice 69-percent true-shooting. Charlotte’s won two of those games, too, ending Toronto’s strong run in the matchup.
With the Walker threat neutralized, the trap game threat may be ratcheted up, what with a team down their star and a very light schedule during the current fortnight. While you’ll sometimes hear that too much time off can disrupt a team’s rhythm, that’s not how the Raptors are viewing their brief siesta.
“No, if anything it makes you more hungry and you want to get out there and play,” DeMar DeRozan said at shootaround. “It’s been so long watching everyone else play, practicing. You kind of get a little more anxious you want to get out there and play.”
It sounds like the Raptors plan to have an energy about them to start this one, which they’ll hope can help with the recent shaky starts to halves.
The game tips off at 7:30 on Sportsnet One and TSN 1050. You can check out the full game preview here.
With C.J. Miles back (maybe just a bit tired from the early days of fatherhood), the Raptors have a pretty clean roster sheet, save for the rehabilitating Delon Wright. There are frontcourt starter and rotation questions that won’t rear their head in a matchup against Dwight Howard but are, as always, worth monitoring moving forward. It seems as if OG Anunoby will continue starting, too, which looks like a good fit. Norman Powell has no qualms about shifting to the bench, by the way.
“It doesn’t matter what my role is. It’s just playing my role to the best of my abilities,” Powell said. “Me coming off the bench, it doesn’t matter. I’m not mad, I’m not upset. It’s my role and I’m going to do what I have to do to help the team win. They put me back in the starting lineup I’m going to do what I have to do to help the team win, just trying to be as productive as I can and make winning plays as much as I can.”
There’s always been a strong case for Powell as a Sixth Man type, and it will be interesting to see if he and Miles can find a quick chemistry that would seem obvious, stylistically, on paper.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Lorenzo Brown
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell
SF: OG Anunoby, C.J. Miles, Alfonzo McKinnie
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira
OUT: Delon Wright
905: Malcolm Miller, Bruno Caboclo
Kemba Walker was ruled out due to a shoulder injury at shootaround, which means Michael Carter-Williams will draw the start and play his largest role in some time. Carter-Williams is a solid defender who poses a challenge with his length, but he remains a fairly ineffective scoring option, shooting below 30 percent on the year and often looking hesitant to even look for his own shot. He’s a willing passer and has solid vision, the Raptors will just know what to expect on a lot of action. Helping things is that Julyan Stone was upgraded from out to probable and could see his first action since two games into the season in a backup role.
Frank Kaminsky (foot sprain) was listed as probable and Jeremy Lamb (hamstring) wasn’t on the injury report at all.
UPDATE: Carter-WIlliams starts, Stone and Kaminsky are active.
PG: Michael Carter-Williams, Julyan Stone
SG: Nicolas Batum, Malik Monk, Treveon Graham
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb, Dwayne Bacon
PF: Marvin Williams, Frank Kaminsky, Johnny O’Bryant
C: Dwight Howard, Cody Zeller
OUT: Kemba Walker
TBD: Julyan Stone Frank Kaminsky, Jeremy Lamb
Greensboro: Marcus Paige, Mangok Mathiang
- Over at The Athletic, I wrote about the Raptors bench, which they claim is the “best in the league.”
- The Raptors are sending out some love to their Toronto FC brothers. TFC overlap with the Raptors tonight, but you can bet we’ll have the game on the media row screens (or I RIOT):
Supporters’ Shield: ✅
Coach Of The Year: ✅
Another trip back to the @MLS Cup Finals: 🔜
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 29, 2017
The Raptors opened as 8-point favorites, and the line has since nudged to Raptors -7.5. The over-under is at 204.5 after starting around 206.