To be completely upfront, I’m a little rattled by the Roy Halladay news as I write this. He is truly one of the great modern Toronto athletes, a perfect combination of dominance, dedication, professionalism, commitment to the city, and genuine good-heartedness. He was Toronto baseball for a decade, and every star this city has from his tenure forward will be trying to measure up to the benchmark he created as to what it means to mean the world to Toronto sports fans.
And if you’ll allow me the indulgence, this tweet is the start of a thread of a close personal memory I have with Halladay and my late grandfather, who passed away this summer:
One of my fondest baseball memories and memories of my late grandfather is also my favorite Roy Halladay memory.
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) November 7, 2017
The Raptors will hold a moment of silence for Halladay tonight.
Anyway, the Chicago Bulls are visiting as the Raptors look to get back on the winning side of the ledger and shake off a largely terrible performance from Sunday. They’ve taken care of the Bulls once already this season and should be looking to come out just as dominant, mad at having squandered opportunities twice in the last three games. Kyle Lowry, in particular, would seem a good bet for his first breakout game of the season. If they come out flat again, Dwane Casey might be liable to start the entire bench on Thursday.
The game tips off at 7:30 on TSN and Sportsnet 590. You can check out the full game preview here.
Toronto comes in healthy other than some bumps and bruises. The big focus will be on whether they can get off to a good start or if the starting unit will continue to struggle. While the frontcourt pairing there isn’t the most seamless fit, it’s not changing any time soon, and the group as a quintet really should be better, on paper, as the sample grows. They’ve played just five games together this year for a total of 71 minutes. That same fivesome only played zero minutes together last season and three minutes in the playoffs. They only started one preseason game with that group. In other words, they need some time still, even if well-paid players face the fair expectation of a quick learning curve.
For his part, Powell’s played better on offense of late, and his explanation of his role at shootaround today was enjoyable.
“Just figuring out where I fit in in the offence with the starters. I [don’t] think it really was a slump but it was just more of me being hesitant in the starting line-up trying to feel it out, trying to play off of Kyle, DeMar, Serge and JV, trying to find my niche with them and just talking to them, talking to the coaches it was just about being aggressive and doing what I normally do and sacrificing where I need to sacrifice but still being aggressive in my play,” he said. “Me, my thing is just running the floor, getting open, trying to speed the game up for them because they’re old. They try to [ease] in and let the game come to them. I’ve got to be the young guy that’s energetic and moving fast to get them going.”
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, Alfonzo McKinnie
Chicago is still dealing with plenty of injury. Zach LaVine, Cameron Payne, and Nikola Mirotic are varying distances away from returning, and David Nwaba is the latest to join them on the shelf. Nwaba had just been moved into the starting lineup in place of Paul Zipser but suffered a severe ankle sprain and is going to miss two-to-four weeks. Zipser will move back into the starting lineup, so unless there’s a change in the point guard rotation, the Bulls will have the same starters as in the earlier meeting between the sides.
They will have two new bench pieces, though, in Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis. Dunn, a defensive pest who struggled mightily on offense as a rookie, has been playing behind incumbent starter Jerian Grant, a situation that could be fluid throughout the year depending on how each plays. Portis returns to the frontcourt rotation following an eight-game suspension, and it feels a bit ludicrous that Portis is back in the lineup before Mirotic, but here we are. Fred Hoiberg confirmed that Portis will be the backup at the four.
PG: Jerian Grant, Kris Dunn, Kay Felder
SG: Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentine
SF: Paul Zipser, Quincy Pondexter
PF: Lauri Markannen, Bobby Portis
C: Robin Lopez, Cristiano Felicio
OUT: Zach LaVine, Cameron Payne, Nikola Mirotic, David Nwaba
Windy City: Ryan Arcidiacono, Antonio Blakeney
- Alfonzo McKinnie was assigned to Raptors 905 on Monday and Bruno Caboclo followed on Tuesday. Both were recalled for this game and one will be the team’s 13th active player before both return to the 905 for their opener Wednesday. These kids, just burning through gas money.
- The 905 will raise their championship banner Wednesday at Hershey Centre, their home opener.
- Vice did a terrific video with Masai Ujiri about Giants of Africa that is a must-watch.
- 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 are holding a design contest where fans can submit gameday graphics the team may use. Details here.
Attn: Designers: We want YOU to design our Game day graphic. Submit using #MyRapsDesign.
1st up 11/12 @ BOS
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 7, 2017
- This isn’t Raptors related, but over at Vice, I wrote about Laeticia Amihere, the 16-year-old Canadian phenom who wants to change what it means to “jump like a girl.” She is quite literally the future of Canadian basketball on the women’s side.
- Over at The Athletic, I wrote about the relationship between Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry. You can use this referral link for 20 percent off a subscription there.
- Let’s leave things off on this note:
Out of context Dwane Casey life advice: "It doesn't cost anything to be nice and to show someone respect & that's what life should be about"
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) November 7, 2017
The Raptors are 10.5-point favorites with a 203 over-under. The line hasn’t moved much throughout the day, a rare bit of stability with neither side having any statuses up in the air. The Raptors would probably like to blow that spread out of the water and treat the Bulls like they did in their first meeting. Free Bruno.