Fan Duel Toronto Raptors

Pre-game news & notes: Valanciunas out again but nobody joins him for rest

We won't know anything until close to tip-off. Shocking.

The Toronto Raptors play their third of four games in five nights on Thursday as they visit the Indiana Pacers for a 7 p.m. tip-off on Sportsnet One. It’s a potential playoff preview if Indiana doesn’t manage to catch Charlotte for the No. 6 seed, but as outlined in today’s full game preview, it’s unlikely either coach shows much of their hand in terms of likely playoff strategery.

Both teams are also playing with less than a full complement of players, which will confuse any extrapolations further. Let’s start there.

Jonas Valanciunas sits again
The injured Raptors center will miss a second consecutive game due to a left hand contusion. Bismack Biyombo was excellent in filling in for Valanciunas on Tuesday, so while he’s reportedly feeling better, there’s little sense in having him play through it. He’s technically a game-time decision and was considered doubtful earlier in the day.

Raptors updates
The guess here has been that Kyle Lowry sits out Thursday’s game for rest. DeMar DeRozan sat Tuesday, and with the team playing four games in five nights, Lowry’s almost surely sitting one out. Even after playing just 28 minutes Tuesday, the Indiana matchup makes the most sense to me. The team probably won’t confirm until the last possible second.

UPDATE: Lowry ain’t resting. Ain’t nobody resting.

DeMarre Carroll remains out, leaving the rotation looking something like this:

PG: Lowry, Cory Joseph, Delon Wright
SG: Norman Powell, T.J. Ross
SF: DeRozan, James Johnson, Bruno Caboclo
PF: Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson
C: Biyombo, Jason Thompson, Lucas Nogueira

Starting Powell over Johnson is something I appreciate, as the former has outperformed the latter of late. Powell is going to give up some size if he checks Paul George – DeRozan could be given that job – but he fared well against Giannis Antetkonmpo and really hasn’t struggled badly with a matchup or player type yet. it’s not a sure-thing he does a good job on George, but it certainly seems worthwhile to have a look.

This starting five has only played nine minutes together so far this year, outscoring opponents by seven points.

Caboclo is active this time around, by the way.

Pacers updates
C.J. Miles is available to return from an illness, and Ty Lawson is good to go coming off of a foot injury. Lawson, however, is unlikely to be used unless absolutely necessary. Ian Mahinmi is a game-time call but is considered doubtful due to a sore lower back.

UPDATE: Mahinmi is out.

That would have the Pacers’ rotation looking something like this:

PG: George Hill, (Lawson,) Joseph Young
SG: Monta Ellis, Rodney Stuckey, Glenn Robinson III
SF: George, Miles, Solomon Hill
PF: Myles Turner, Lavoy Allen
C: Jordan Hill, Shayne Whittington

The line
The game was off the board earlier, but Vegas always knows. The Raptors are 3-point underdogs, which has been pushed from Pacers -2, and considering that line indicates a roughly equal matchup given neutral court, it certainly seems as if oddsmakers and betters are expecting Valanciunas to remain on the shelf, and maybe someone to join him. If that’s the case, the Raptors probably lose this game, but that’s fine.

Assuming nobody’s a late scratch, Raptors 101, Pacers 98, and the Raptors rest Lowry on Friday or I pass out from worry.