It’s been a weird and busy day around the Toronto Raptors. Back home following another road trip, the Raptors held a shootaround Friday morning that provided more questions than it did answers. We’re still awaiting an update on Delon Wright, there were a bunch of ups and downs (and additions) with Raptors 905, Norman Powell’s day-to-day absence has no greater clarity, and Serge Ibaka was even added to the injury report.
What we do know is that the New York Knicks are visiting, and that they’re a young, feisty team the Raptors can’t take lightly just because they’re back home or shorthanded. The Knicks are equipped to punish mistakes, particularly on an opponent’s own glass, and Kristaps Porzingis represents one of the most unique matchup challenges in basketball today. As they’ve done with recent tough covers, the Raptors plan to throw a few different strategies at the young prodigy to keep him out of a comfort zone.
“Hopefully we’ve seen an Anthony Davis, we’ve seen a (DeMarcus) Cousins, a big that can get out in the floor, (Lauri) Markkanen from Chicago,” head coach Dwane Casey said at shootaround. “He gets up about five threes a game. The most lethal part of his game is his early post-ups. He gets down there early in the block and goes to work in that situation. So we’ve gotta do a good job early of making sure we get into his body, keep him off his sweet spot, and not let him be comfortable down there, whether we double-team him from the baseline, double-team him from the top, we’ve gotta keep him guessing.”
If Ibaka can’t go, Pascal Siakam may figure to draw that assignment out of the gate, though the rotation will be especially fluid tonight if three rotation players are on the shelf. Enes Kanter represents a good challenge for Jonas Valanciunas, and even the guards won’t have the easiest time scoring opposite a backcourt that includes Courtney Lee and intriguing rookie Frank Ntilikina. The Knicks are a ton of fun, and as long as the Raptors come out with the appropriate energy here, the game should be as well.
The game tips off at 7:30 on Sportsnet One and TSN 1050. You can check out the full game preview here.
While Raptors fans await a long-term prognosis for Delon Wright’s dislocated right shoulder, they’re left to look for context clues. Wright wasn’t wearing a sling at shootaround, for example. Fred VanVleet, who will assume a larger role in his absence, talked about the injury as if it wasn’t that big a deal. The Raptors announced Friday that further tests confirmed a right shoulder dislocation and revealed that he’ll consult with a specialist in New York next week.
Lorenzo Brown has been recalled from the G-League to provide depth at the point guard position. Alfonzo McKinnie and Bruno Caboclo were also recalled for tonight’s game and will probably be re-assigned for a 2 p.m. game at Hershey Centre tomorrow.
Joining Wright on the shelf could be good pal Norman Powell, who has missed the last two games with a right hip pointer and is officially listed as doubtful Friday. Even with Wright down, there’s little sense in rushing a player back in November, and so patience will be preached until Powell’s at 100 percent. If he sits, it’s more opportunity for OG Anunoby as a starter, a window for C.J. Miles to play a bigger role, and a chance for the Raptors to see how they look a little bigger, down two natural guards.
Sticking with the theme of caution, Serge Ibaka is questionable due to left knee soreness. He missed a game earlier in the year with right knee soreness, so while this is unrelated, it’s still a little concerning. He’d be the team’s primary option on Kristaps Porzingis, and if he can’t go, it could be another big night for Pascal Siakam, who’s been playing quite well since re-entering the rotation.
UPDATE: Powell is out. Ibaka’s a game-time call.
UPDATE II: Ibaka is out.
UPDATE III: Anunoby and Siakam start, as expected.
Check back before tip-off to confirm starters.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Lorenzo Brown
SG: DeMar DeRozan
SF: OG Anunoby, C.J. Miles, Alfonzo McKinnie
PF: Pascal Siakam, Bruno Caboclo
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira
OUT: Delon Wright, Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka
905: Malcolm Miller
The Knicks revealed at shootaround that Courtney Lee is good to go despite some hamstring soreness, and he’ll probably be the primary defender on DeMar DeRozan early on. Ron Baker, meanwhile, will miss another game with an ankle issue, and Willy Hernangomez is active despite a recent illness.
With Lee playing, the Knicks rotation will look pretty straightforward, as Jeff Hornacek seems to have found nine guys he trusts for the time being. Joakim Noah is not one of them, by the way, and he figures to be inactive whenever the Knicks are healthy (even though his contract is such that they waived Mindaugas Kuzminskas to make room for his return). Free Michael Beasley.
PG: Jarrett Jack, Frank Ntilikina, Ramon Sessions
SG: Courtney Lee, Damyean Dotson
SF: Tim Hardaway, Doug McDermott
PF: Kristaps Porzingis, Lance Thomas, Michael Beasley
C: Enes Kanter, Kyle O’Quinn, Willy Hernangomez, Joakim Noah
OUT: Ron Baker
Westchester: Isaiah Hicks, Luke Kornet
- I wrote about the Wright fallout at The Athletic. RR readers can get 20 percent off a subscription at this link.
- Tonight’s game will set an NBA record for the most players participating who at one point participated in Basketball Without Borders. Enes Kante (2008, Turkey), Willy Hernangomez (2011, Slovenia), Frank Ntilikina (2015, France), Bruno Caboclo (2013, Brazil), Pascal Siakam (2012, South Africa), and Jonas Valanciunas (2008, Turkey) were all a part of the BWB camps at one point. All told, over 50 players who participated in BWB have made the NBA, including 24 active players.
- The Raptors continue to hold an open design contest for game-day graphics, and you can vote on winners here:
- Later this month we’re giving away another pair of tickets with InTheActionSeats.com:
The Raptors have held at 8-point favorites most of the day, edging to Raptors -7.5 at times. That line could come down if Powell and Ibaka are ruled out. The over-under quickly jumped from 215 to 217 upon opening and has held there, though it’s also popped up at 216 and 218 some places.