Dwane Casey is hoping the Toronto Raptors learned a lesson on Thursday. The Raptors may have looked past a thinned-out and struggling Philadelphia 76ers team and nearly paid the price, requiring a 22-point comeback to come away with the victory. Casey’s message before Saturday’s rematch is that the Raptors have not done enough to take any opposing team lightly, and he’s hoping to change that narrative around the team as they continue a softer part of the schedule. (Just don’t tell Casey the schedule is soft, as Joe Cash learned.)
The point Casey was trying to make is three-fold: One, any team in the NBA can beat any other team on any night, which there’s plenty of evidence to support; Two, the Raptors had this same record at this point last season and wound up falling off and then being swept in the second round; Three, even Casey’s championship Dallas Mavericks had to prove it every single time out.
Look, the message gets a little rote when the team is playing their 12th sub-.500 team in 13 games, but it’s good that the Raptors are trying to stay cognizant of the potential for complacency. The point here isn’t that the Raptors should be expected to beat Philly by 20. If they do, it’ll mean they brought the appropriate energy and respect to the game. (They’ll also push their home record to 12-1 with a win, an area of stated importance for them.)
The game tips off at 5 on TSN 2 and TSN 1050. You can check out the full game preview here.
The Raptors are trying to match up with the 76ers in the weirdest way possible, by playing their game on the injury report. Like Philadelphia did Thursday, the Raptors changed up some of their injury statuses between the release of game notes and the early afternoon, as the lack of shootaround (due to the early tip) prevented a clear update earlier on.
Originally left off the injury report, C.J. Miles is back on it, and he’s out. This will be the third game he’s missed following a dental procedure, one that must have been pretty damn painful. Your boy had his wisdom teeth out a few years ago and came away on the lucky end with a two-day recovery time. There’s no word on what, specifically, Miles had done (not that it’s our business), but it couldn’t have been pleasant. With Miles out, the rotation should look pretty similar to the last two games, though Casey’s patience with the all-bench units is probably starting to wear a little thin, which could warrant more staggering of the starters (and particularly the bigs).
Speaking of bigs, Lucas Nogueira could make his return here. He’s been sidelined since Nov. 29 with a tear in his right calf and was growing closer to a return as of Tuesday. The Raptors haven’t practiced since Tuesday, so his status likely hinges on how he feels during a walk-through and pre-game warmups (he’s usually one of the first players to get their pre-game routine in).
UPDATE: Miles is dealing with a post-procedure infection, which is the cause of the extended absence. Nogueira will not play.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Delon Wright
SF: OG Anunoby, Norman Powell
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Malcolm Miller
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl
OUT: C.J. Miles, Lucas Nogueira
905: Bruno Caboclo, Lorenzo Brown, Alfonzo McKinnie
Good luck figuring out what’s going on with the Sixers’ injury report on a given day. Here’s what we know: Markelle Fultz, Furkan Korkmaz, and Justin Anderson are out for sure. J.J. Redick is listed as doubtful, too, and it would seem pretty unlikely that the 76ers push him after just one game down and with a Christmas Day game coming up.
As for Joel Embiid…who knows? After the injury report showing “TBD” earlier, he’s now questionable. On Thursday, he went from doubtful to questionable to probable to out, so it’s hard to put much stock into his tag, anyway. I’ve had a lot of people message me throughout the day asking whether or not he’ll go, and the truth is we probably won’t know until closer to tip-off. Obviously, Embiid is a huge swing piece who changes this game from a straight-forward rematch of Thursday’s affair to an entirely different game altogether, especially on defense for Toronto. It’d be great to finally get to see him live, but I’m skeptical.
Check back before tip-off for an Embiid status. Redick is out.
UPDATE: Embiid is playing! They saved the news until 4:47, but there you go.
PG: Ben Simmons, T.J. McConnell,Jacob Pullen
SG: Jerryd Bayless, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot
SF: Robert Covington
PF: Dario Saric, Trevor Booker, James Michael McAdoo
C: Joel Embiid, Amir Johnson, Richaun Holmes
OUT: J.J. Redick, Markelle Fultz, Furkan Korkmaz, Justin Anderson
- All Lowe Post podcasts are must-listen, but yesterday’s edition, featuring Dwane Casey, is even more so a must-listen for Raptors fans. Zach is an excellent interviewer and Casey a tremendous subject. Really fun half-hour.
Lowe Post podcast: Dwane Casey on revamping the Raps, coaching in late-80s Japan, karaoke go-tos, the ’11 Mavs, more: https://t.co/YHEQnZjSLx
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) December 23, 2017
- Raptors 905 tipped off at 2 p.m. at Hershey Centre and won their third in a row. Lorenzo Brown, Bruno Caboclo, and Alfonzo McKinnie are there for that one. They’ll probably try to hustle down to the ACC now to take in Raptors-Sixers.
- Over at The Athletic, I wrote about how the Raptors could get even more out of C.J. Miles. Uhh, obviously not tonight, they can’t. RR readers can get 20 percent off a subscription at this link.
- Read my good son William on DeMar DeRozan. Also, it’s Will’s birthday. Go give him some love on Twitter.
- A whole lot of holiday cheer being spread around by the Raptors this week:
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 18, 2017
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 20, 2017
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 22, 2017
DeMar DeRozan surprising children at Sick Kids this morning in a blue Santa suit. pic.twitter.com/NK2O5suqzQ
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) December 22, 2017
Dwane Casey is coaching a bunch of 10-14-year-olds (through Toronto Housing Community) at BioSteel Centre right now as part of his holiday event. Presents, too!
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) December 22, 2017
The Raptors were 3-point favorites in Philly, and the change in venue and freedom from a back-to-back has them a much larger favorite here at Raptors -10. That could still shift a point if Embiid plays. It’ll still be the Raptors as heavy favorites. The over-under is at 219.