All-Star 2016

Pre-game news & notes: Lowry playing; Porzingis, Calderon and Anthony out; Silver talks All-Star

The Toronto Raptors will look to set a franchise record with their 10th consecutive win on Thursday when they host the New York Knicks. The game tips off at 8 p.m. on TNT, or, in the likelier case you’re reading this from Canada, Sportsnet One.

It might not be the Knicks-Raptors showdown TNT had in mind, as the Knicks are without Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.

Before we get to that…
DeMar DeRozan is an All-Star!

Knicks Updates
As mentioned, Anthony is out with a sore knee. He joins Cleanthony Early on the injured list, and Jose Calderon is out with a sore groin, too. You can read more about the fallout here.

UPDATE: Kristaps Porzingis was ruled out 45 minutes before tip-off due to an upper respiratory illness. Sources tell me he’s suffering from realness. (Seriously, this suuuuucks, he’s so entertaining.)

To help weather the storm, the Knicks signed former second-round pick Thanasis Antetokounmpo from Westchester of the D-League. Antetokounmpo has been largely unimpressive in three D-League seasons, but he looked really solid in two recent games against Raptors 905.

With those notes, the rotation will look something like this:

PG: Langston Galloway, Jerian Grant
SG: Arron Afflalo, Sasha Vujacic
SF: Lance Thomas, Antetokounmpo
PF: Kyle O’Quinn, Derrick Williams, Kevin Seraphin
C: Robin Lopez, Lou Amundson

Speaking of Calderon
I love and miss that guy. DeMar DeRozan does, too.

Raptors Updates
Lowry was a game-time call due to a sprained left wrist, but he’ll play and start. I don’t really see the point given how shorthanded the Knicks are and given how heavy a load Lowry’s already played under, but I’m not in charge.

DeMarre Carroll remains sidelined and Anthony Bennett and Bruno Caboclo are with the 905, so their rotation will look something like this:

PG: Lowry, Cory Joseph, Delon Wright
SG: DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Norman Powell
SF: James Johnson
PF: Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Bismack Biyombo, Lucas Nogueira

The line
The Raptors are 10.5-point favorites with a 200 over-under. That line is probably subject to move half a point in either direction based on the pre-game injury updates, but it’s close to reasonable as is. The Knicks are better than anticipated but they’re yet to win without Anthony. Both teams play at a bottom-six pace, so the guess here is that they miss the over-under, even if it’s not exactly a defensive showcase.

Raptors 103, Knicks 88

You can check out Gavin’s full game preview here.

Adam Silver on Dwane Casey
Commissioner Adam Silver was asked about the All-Star Game coaches on Thursday and made it seem as if no consideration was ever given to Raptors head coach Dwane Casey getting the nod.

Here’s Silver, courtesy of USA TODAY:

In the East, the team with the best record and the coach of that team, according to our rules, the All-Star coach. In this case, it’s Ty Lue, and he’s the coach. Remember, he was the associate head coach of the team, and every head coach in this league will tell you it’s not just him or her, it’s their entire staff, and that’s how rules work…There was no discussion about Dwane Casey becoming the coach of the East.

Silver also made it seem as if the league is readying to change the fan-voting procedure:

On (fan) balloting, it’s something we’ll continue to look at. We love the fact that fans have input into who the All-Stars are. As social media changes the world and is disruptive, it’s been mildly disruptive to our balloting systems as well. I know that’s something we’ll take a fresh look at.

Sam Amick then grossly overstated the impact of Drake’s Instagram post in support of Lowry and DeRozan as an example of the flaws in the system, but whatever. haters gonna hate.

Adam Silver on Sting
The NBA announced Thursday that Sting will perform at halftime of the All-Star Game in Toronto. It’s quite dumb. TMZ caught up with Silver, and the commish revealed that he’s still holding out hope Drake makes an appearance.

“And I’m hoping Drake comes out and does a little something with Sting, too,” Silver said. “So we’ll see.”

As for some others, well, they were more diplomatic than I care to be.

WNBA Playoff Format Change
The WNBA announced Thursday that they will change how teams are seeded for the playoffs. Regardless of conference or location, teams that qualify for the playoffs will be seeded based on record, complete with re-seeding after each round. They’ll also make their first two rounds single-elimination.

While that latter note will never carry over to the NBA, the playoff seeding is an interesting note. Deputy commissioner Mark Tatum played a role in the change, which could indicate the NBA is considering a similar tweak. It runs the risk of creating additional travel toll and wear-and-tear on players, but it’s a step toward a more balanced league structure.

The implication for the Raptors would be that they’d need to finish top eight overall rather than top four in the East to earn home court – in each of the last two seasons, they would have been on the road rather than at home.

Read This
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN is a terrific writer. He wrote about the Raptors today. You should read it.

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