The Toronto Raptors have to play an NBA basketball game on Thursday, all while everyone’s heads are still spinning from the 3 p.m. trade deadline. The trade calls with the league haven’t even been completed yet – notice a dearth of official trade announcements – and these teams have to play with their rosters in flux. I’ve always kind of thought trade deadline day should be a blank schedule day, but I suppose Thursday nighters are good fodder for pre-game and halftime shows to break down the reported deals.
In any case, the Raptors have to play despite my protestations. They’ll host a New York Knicks team so thin that I might get minutes, and they’ll do so as one of the heaviest favorites on the NBA schedule so far this year at +14. All caveats apply about taking no team lightly and taking care of home court, where the Raptors have lost exactly once to a sub-.500 team this year (Utah), but this should be another opportunity for the Raptors to assert their dominance on a game and take care of business without much drama.
My favorite storyline in this one? Michael Beasley getting the chance to cook. Beasley is averaging 12.4 points in just 19.6 minutes on 56.1-percent true-shooting, using 29.2 percent of Knicks possessions when on the floor. That usage rate climbs to 31.8 percent when Kristaps Porzingis and Enes Kanter are both off the floor. He should have carte blanche to create offense here.
The game tips off at 7:30 on Sportsnet One and TSN 1050. You can check out the full game preview here.
Toronto does not appear set to buy anyone some extra rest here, unless it comes as a late surprise. Nobody is on the injury report – not even Jonas Valanciunas, who appeared to hurt his left foot Tuesday – and none of the Raptors 905 reinforcements have been recalled as extra depth. So the Raptors are rolling with the usual 12 players here, and they’d be running a bit thin if Valanciunas or a Serge Ibaka or someone else got the night off. There’s still plenty of opportunity to keep workloads low, though – the Raptors have kept minutes reasonable as the schedule has compressed, the stars have sat out entire fourth quarters at times of late, and the Raptors have two days off after this to continue the load management.
In other news, the Raptors dealt Bruno Caboclo to the Kings for Malachi Richardson at the deadline. That doesn’t have implications here – Richardson won’t play and has a sprained ankle, Caboclo was with the 905 – it didn’t stop me from writing a lot about it.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell
SF: OG Anunoby, C.J. Miles
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira
OUT: Malachi Richardson
905: Malcolm Miller, Lorenzo Brown, Alfonzo McKinnie
New York comes in as even more of a mess than usual. Not yet bought out, Joakim Noah is not traveling with the team while they figure that whole situation out. Kristaps Porzingis just tore his ACL in one of the more depressing moments of the NBA season. Enes Kanter doesn’t need a root canal, he needs a new DJ, homie. And Ron Baker continues to duck Fred VanVleet and blame it on a shoulder injury.
On top off all of the injuries, the Knicks dealt Willy Hernangomez this week for a player (Johnny O’Bryant) they’re waiving and dealt Raptor-killer Doug McDermott in a three-team trade for Emmanuel Muiday, who won’t be available here.
The Knicks have played a total of 90 minutes this year where all of the players unavailable here have all been off the floor. That’s it. This is basically completely foreign territory, and the most commonly used lineup they’ll have available to them has played 23 minutes together. The projected starters have played 19. The Knicks are actually a plus-34 in those 90 minutes, but it stands to reason that a lot of those were garbage time. This is going to be weird.
Check back before tip-off to confirm the starters.
UPDATE: Starters are as anticipated below.
PG: Jarrett Jack, Trey Burke, Frank Ntilikina
SG: Courtney Lee, Damyean Dotson
SF: Tim Hardaway, Lance Thomas
PF: Michael Beasley, Isaiah Hicks
C: Kyle O’Quinn, Luke Kornet
OUT: Kristaps Porzingis, Enes Kanter, Ron Baker, Joakim Noah, Emmanuel Mudiay
- For all your trade deadline catch-up needs:
- Procedural note: I’ll have a piece on the buyout market tomorrow.
- The Raptors traded Bruno Caboclo for Malachi Richardson.
- Today’s open thread.
- If you need to catch up on older stuff:
- Raptors 905 are hanging in New York before heading to Lakeland for a Saturday game. Alfonzo McKinne, Malcolm Miller, and Lorenzo Brown all with them. They visited the NBPA offices in New York today, which is probably always a good, informative trip.
- This is a must watch, and it’s now available on iTunes and Google Play:
The Giants of Africa documentary is being released Tuesday. Really can’t recommend it strongly enough.
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) February 4, 2018
- Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse will participate in the NBA Celebrity Game at All-Star weekend.
- Masai Ujiri will once again be the camp director for the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp at All-Star weekend. Among the 65 boys and girls from 36 countries will be five Canadian player (three girls, two boys).
- DeMar DeRozan’s new Kobe AD PE dropped yesterday. His earlier Compton edition one is one of my favorite shoes, so this is probably good, too.
— Foot Locker Canada (@footlockercad) February 7, 2018
The Raptors are 14-point favorites with a 213 over-under.