There’s not much more preamble necessary having already done the preview this morning. The Toronto Raptors need a victory, and the Atlanta Hawks, while out to a rough start, aren’t going to lay down and give it to them. It’s incumbent on the Raptors to show a consistency of force and energy that’s been lacking the last two games. Let’s see it.
The game tips off at 7:30 on TSN and Sportsnet 590. You can check out the full game preview here.
C.J. Miles will once again be missing for the Raptors, for the best of reasons. His first child was born Thursday night, and he’s been given the weekend to be with mother and daughter. If another person gets in my mentions calling this a problem, I’m going to lose it. It’s basketball, and it’s family. One is exceedingly more important than the other.
With Miles out, OG Anunoby and Norman Powell will continue to see expanded roles. Anunoby has been fine as a starter, though Dwane Casey’s search for a better energy with the starting group could eventually see him look to make a change there, given it’s the easiest spot to make a move (in political and rotation balance terms). Powell is still getting his footing back after missing four games, shooting well in his first game back and then attacking well in the second. He remains a good fit on paper with bench groups while Delon Wright is sidelined, and him playing in the second unit can help Casey tighten the rotation.
As for who starts in the frontcourt, the guess here is that it’s the usual suspects, even though Casey went away from it Friday. It’s hard to start small and have three centers off the bench with no forward depth, and Atlanta will start big with Luke Babbitt down, anyway. It’s a tough spot, with the starting lineup clearly not working but every potential solution inviting some trade-offs. At a certain point, they’ll probably need to try something.
UPDATE: Starters are the starters.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Lorenzo Brown
SG: DeMar DeRozan
SF: OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, Alfonzo McKinnie
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira
OUT: Delon Wright, C.J. Miles
905: Malcolm Miller, Bruno Caboclo
The Hawks will be down three pieces on the second night of a back-to-back in which 10 players were a part of the rotation, so they’ll at the same time be relatively fresh for the circumstances (nobody topped 35 minutes) but a little light if they come out tired. Isaiah Taylor remains on the shelf, and day-to-day cases Luke Babbitt and Mike Muscala have both been ruled out for this one after sitting Friday, too.
Mike Budenholzer has tweaked the periphery of his rotation at times, as you’d expect with a young team with some G League up-and-down. If it plays out like it did Friday, it means some Josh Magette and Tyler Cavanaugh sightings and annual can-the-Raptors-trade-for candidate Ersan Ilyaosva seeing some minutes as a center. John Collins will start again with Babbitt down, presenting a tough challenge if the Raptors do go Serge Ibaka-Jonas Valanciunas – Dewayne Dedmon is a fine enough matchup for Valanciunas defensively but Dennis Schroder will use him as a screener plenty, and Collins has a lot of energy for Ibaka to match.
PG: Dennis Schroder, Josh Magette, Malcolm Delaney
SG: Kent Bazemore, Marco Belinelli, Tyler Dorsey
SF: Taurean Prince, DeAndre’ Bembry
PF: John Collins, Tyler Cavanaugh
C: Dewayne Dedmon, Ersan Ilyasova, Miles Plumlee
OUT: Mike Muscala, Luke Babbitt, Isaiah Taylor
Erie: Nicolas Brussino
- The NBA’s Last Two Minute report from last night reveals the following mistakes:
- An incorrect non-call on Lance Stephenson for a loose ball foul on DeMar DeRozan.
- An incorrect non-call on Lance Stephenson for a shooting foul on DeMar DeRozan.
- An incorrect on-call on Kyle Lowry for a lane violation.
- Over at The Athletic, I broke down a play Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have used to connect on alley-oops three games in a row and many times over the last few years. RR readers can get 20 percent off a subscription at this link.
- Bruno Caboclo remains with Raptors 905, who lost earlier today. It’s possible Alfonzo McKinnie and/or Lorenzo Brown are assigned for Sunday’s 905 afternoon game, depending on when the team returns home tonight.
- Canada won their first FIBA qualifier yesterday. Over at Vice, I wrote about the importance of the growth of CIS/USports for Canadian athletes and for Canada Basketball’s senior men’s team specifically.
- We’re drawing a name Sunday to give away another pair of tickets with InTheActionSeats.com:
The Raptors were initially 7-point favorites and the line has since come down to Raptors -6. The over under dropped from 210.5 to 209.