Hello from Sarasota!
There was a 64-degree swing in temperature from my Thursday and Saturday runs. I went off at the Nike and Vans factory outlet stores. I’ve drank every IPA the state has to offer, including the excellent Kona Brewing Co. Castaway IPA I’m enjoying on a patio right now. I’m not technically on vacation but I’m in Florida for some spring training and to recharge a bit ahead of the playoff stretch run.
Basically, I’m treating the next few days like the Toronto Raptors treated Friday’s game. The Raptors could conceivably treat Saturday the same as they go head-to-head with what’s left of a disappointing New Orleans Pelicans squad. Kyle Lowry celebrated his 30th birthday last night, and it’s entirely conceivable that head coach Dwane Casey and company will see fit to let Lowry have a day off. Or DeMar DeRozan. Or both, or anyone else. We never know, because the Raptors like to run around the schoolyard pretending they’re ninjas, keeping everything super secret until the last moment.
So as always, check back often. Until then, here’s what we know. (You can check out the full game preview here.)
Terrence Ross is out
T.J. showed up to shootaround Friday wearing a glove on his left hand. He sat, with the team calling the injury just a sore thumb, but it’s worth remembering that Ross missed two weeks earlier in the year due to a ligament issue in that same thumb.
Ross is officially questionable for Saturday’s game. I’d be surprised to see him. UPDATE: He’s out, per Casey. And insert your own Amber Rose thumb joke here.
Ross is averaging 9.4 points and 2.4 rebounds while knocking down 38.2 percent of his threes. He’s taken strides since a rough start to the season, playing steadier, if still uneven, defense, and settling back in as a reliable outside threat. Since Dec. 7, he’s hitting 39.8 percent of his triples and averaging 10.7 points. He’s also been a big part of several of the Raptors’ best two-way lineups.
We don’t have word of anyone resting yet, but again, check back. DeMarre Carroll remains out and nobody is in the D-League, so here’s how things look:
PG: Lowry, Cory Joseph, Delon Wright
SF: DeRozan, James Johnson, Bruno Caboclo
PF: Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, Jason Thompson
C: Valanciunas, Bismack Biyombo, Lucas Nogueira
The Raptors are listing Lowry and DeRozan with the starters, by the way.
Let’s try to sort through this tire-fire. This is copied and updated from the preview.
Ryan Anderson (groin) could be done for the season
Anthony Davis (shoulder, knee) is definitely done
Bryce Dejean-Jones (wrist) is out for the year, too
Tyreke Evans (knee) is, as well
Eric Gordon (finger) ain’t walking through that door
Quincy Pondexter (knee) got injured trying to walk through it
Norris Cole (back) is questionable (doesn’t sound like we’re getting a firm update on him)
Jrue Holiday (toe) IS OUT
What. A. Mess.
The Pelicans signed former Raptors training camp player Jordan Hamilton to a 10-day contract. He’s…fine. He’s a warm body, anyway. The rotation might look something like this:
PG: Toney Douglas, Tim Frazier, (Cole)
SG: Alonzo Gee
SF: Luke Babbitt, Hamilton
PF: Dante Cunningham
C: Omer Asik, Kendrick Perkins, Alexis Ajinca
The Raptors opened as 8.5-point favorites and the line has since nudged to Raptors -9.5. On the road, on the second night of a back-to-back, that tells you a lot about the world’s confidence in the Pelicans right now. The over-under has held steady at 201.
I’m withholding a prediction until we know who’s sitting or until I’m done wrestling this eight-foot alligator staring me down from across the way. (UPDATE: I’m not kidding, he’s stalking a turtle. This is badass.)