The Toronto Raptors only wanted to get to the playoffs healthy. To that end, they rested both DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas against the Orlando Magic on Sunday. You have to play somebody, though, and one of those somebodies went down hurt filling in.
Norman Powell drove to his left early in the first quarter, kicked to a shooter, and came up lame upon planting. He limped to the bench, and then to the locker room, but was diagnosed with a sprained left ankle and ruled eligible to return.
And then Lucas Nogueira came up limping and had to head to the locker room, too. He’s been ruled out for the remainder of the game due to left hamstring tightness.
Nogueira was starting in place of Valanciunas, and the Raptors have only nine healthy bodies on the roster for the rest of the game. That will mean more time for Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam, and Serge Ibaka, none of whom the Raptors will want to task with a heavy load in isolation so close to the playoffs. An injury to any player is never good, obviously, and the randomness of these Nogueira and Powell scares show some of the thinking behind resting players late in the year even if their minutes have been well-managed all season.
The hope here is surely that Nogueira’s injury is a short-term one. While he doesn’t figure to open the playoffs in the rotation, the Raptors have faith in him as a change-of-pace third center, and there are a few potential matchup situations he could be really valuable in. Toronto has the league’s deepest center rotation, but it would certainly be preferable to enter the playoffs with all of them available.