The Raptors first game at the newly renamed Scotiabank Arena is this Friday night as their preseason continues, hosting the defending champions of Australia’s National Basketball League, Melbourne United. Toronto comes into this game 1-1 in the preseason, having beat the Portland Trailblazers in Vancouver before dropping a game to the Utah Jazz, while Melbourne comes in after visiting the Philadelphia 76ers in a game that they dropped 104-84, and this game against the Raptors will be their final preseason game against an NBA opponent.
Thus far in the preseason the Raptors have used the two halves of games separately, playing their starters through the first half before turning the second half over to the bench as the team looks to make decisions on the players where they have to make decisions before the end of training camp. With a public scrimmage coming up on Sunday, and two more preseason contests remaining, it seems reasonable to expect the same in this one. Against Philadelphia, United was led by 19 points and 13 rebounds from bruising big man Alex Pledger as well as 19 points from Casper Ware, while the Raptors got strong performances in Utah from Jonas Valanciunas who finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds, as well as from Kawhi Leonard who had 17 points and showed signs of shaking off the rust from missing most of last season to injury.
One thing to watch will who the Raptors choose to start in this game, as they started Serge Ibaka at center against Portland then went to Jonas Valanciunas against the Jazz, and coach Nick Nurse has indicated that his starting lineup may remain fluid into the season. OG Anunoby wasn’t with the Raptors for practice yesterday as he continues to be away from the team following the passing of his father, and in all likelihood will miss Friday night’s game as well. This will be the hometown crowd’s first look at both Leonard and Danny Green, and with Leonard having shown some of the form that had him as a MVP candidate in his last full season, the crowd will likely be expecting a show from the team’s new star.
EDIT: As this was published, it was revealed that Kawhi will not be making his home debut in this game, as he, Kyle Lowry, CJ Miles, and Fred VanVleet will all be resting for this game.