Pre-game news & notes: DeRozan and Valanciunas rest, Ross returns

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There was no shootaround this morning, I’m not physically at the Air Canada Centre pre-game because Raptors 905 tip off at 7, as well, and I wrote the game preview this morning. What I’m saying is that I don’t have a heck of a lot new to say as the Toronto Raptors set to host the Orlando Magic on Sunday evening.

It’s not a phenomenally important game since the Raptors have locked up most of what they set out to, but it wouldn’t be the worst idea to try to stay ahead of Golden State for home court in a potential NBA Finals meeting, and the 60-win marker is still in reach. Closing out the season strong can serve those ends, keep the starters well-rested without sitting them out necessarily, and send the team into the playoffs in rhythm, all worthwhile aims.

The game tips off at 6 on Sportsnet One and TSN 1050. You can check out the full game preview here.

Raptors updates
Toronto will give DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas the night off here in their continued attempt to make sure everyone is fresh and healthy for the postseason. That’s something they’ve done a good job of all season long, anyway, but with nothing major left to play for and a back-to-back scenario against teams they can probably beat even shorthanded, it makes sense to not only get guys some extra downtime but to get a few of the fringe rotation guys a few extra minutes, too. It sounds like the plan is for others – likely Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka – to sit tomorrow.

An aside: There are 271 players with 1,000 or more minutes so far this year, or nine per-team. That the Raptors have 11 speaks to how well they’ve leaned on their depth.

PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright
SG: Norman Powell
SF: OG Anunoby, C.J. Miles
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam
C: Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira
OUT: DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas
TBD: None
905: Malachi Richardson, Alfonzo McKinnie, , Lorenzo Brown, Malcolm Miller

Magic updates
Terrence Ross will make his first appearance since Nov. 29 here. Ross suffered MCL and tibeal plateau injuries, costing him the bulk of his season in one of the more disappointing turns of the year. He’s missed all of the earlier meetings between these two teams (he’s only played against the Raptors once in his career, a 17-point outing late last season), though he’s been around to catch up with his old teammates alongside Bismack Biyombo in adorable fashion. Prior to going down, Ross was struggling a bit, averaging nine points on efficient shooting. This should have been a breakout year for him, and it’ll be nice to see him back on the floor for a few games before he tackles 2018-19.

Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic are both being listed as probable with minor injuries, while Jonathan Isaac, Jonathan Simmons, and Evan Fournier remain sidelined. UPDATE: Gordon and Vucevic are playing.

PG: D.J. Augustin, Shelvin Mack
SG: Wesley Iwundu, Terrence Ross, Arron Afflalo, Rodney Purvis
SF: Mario Hezonja, Jamel Artis
PF: Aaron Gordon, Khem Birch
C: Nikola Vucevic, Bismack Biyombo, Marreese Speights
OUT: Jonathan Simmons, Evan Fournier, Jonathan Isaac
TBD: None
Lakeland: None


  • Raptors 905 are in Austin tonight for Game 1 of the G League Finals. Lorenzo Brown, Malcolm Miller, Malachi Richardson, and Alfonzo McKinnie are all on assignment. They’re back in Mississauga for Game 2 on Tuesday. Raptors Republic readers can use the promo code REPUBLIC905 for a discount on tickets for Game 2.
  • The Raptors will play Game 1 of their first-round series at home on either Saturday or Sunday. The league denies that whatever leaks are on StubHub are accurate, though it’s certainly possible that what’s out there ends up accurate. Looking ahead, the Leafs will play a home game either Monday or Tuesday (as well as Thursday), so the date of the Raptors’ Game 2 – and perhaps their Game 1 as a result – may depend on who the Leafs end up drawing. It looks like Saturday-Monday or Sunday-Tuesday/Wednesday are your Raptors scenarios. So…basically it could be any of the available options still.

The line
The Raptors are 13-point favorites with a 210.5 over-under.

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