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Gameday: Pacers @ Raptors, Jan 6 – Leonard out, Lowry returns

Update: Lowry returns.

Kawhi Leonard will sit out tonight versus the Pacers. There were reports last week that the club saw him as being ready to play back-to-back nights, but it appears we’re still a bit away from that. The official term used by Raptors mouthguard Eric Smith is “load management”:

When it comes to the regular season in the East, a statement win against the top-seeded Bucks on the road is the pinnacle of achievement. The home game against the Pacers pales a bit in comparison, thought is not without weight given their third rank, and the fact that they’ve won 6 in a row since the Raptors last beat them. The opposition has been fairly weak: Brooklyn, Washington, Atlanta twice, Detroit, and Chicago. They last played on Friday when it took Victor Oladipo scoring 36 to beat the Bulls.

Here are the probable starters:

  • Young/Siakam: It would be a shame if Thad Young’s career ended without him having played a game for the Raptors. He’s was in the category of Kenneth Faried when it came to probable trade targets for the Raptors. The stars never aligned.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic/Danny Green: Some steady progression in Bogdanovic’s career other than his brief stint with Washington. He’s averaging 16.2 points while starting 38 games for the third seed in the East, and shooting 45% from three.
  • Sabonis/Ibaka: Myles Turner is questionable with shoulder soreness so Sabonis or Kyle O’Quinn would see some time in his absence. Ibaka’s strong showing this season, especially last night against Milwaukee makes him an easy pick in this matchup.
  • Collison/Powell: I’m guessing Green moves over and Powell starts – advantage Collison here.
  • Oladipo/FVV: Let’s see if FVV truly is the defender some think he is. One thing to keep an eye on is dribble penetration against FVV, which he hasn’t been great at preventing in general.

The game is on Sportsnet One at 7:30 PM.  It’s also on “national” TV in the US on NBA TV, so there’s some exposure on this one. Despite arguably missing their top three players, the Raptors are favored by three at home.

Quick thoughts on the Spurs loss/Bucks win.  The Spurs game was a scheduled loss if I ever saw one and little needs to be taken away from it.  The Raptors were overrun defensively, and you knew it was a bad night when the Spurs scored in transition after a Raptors made basket in the first quarter.  Buckling down after that performance and taking one away on the road against a better team is a very positive sign, and speaks to the resiliency of the team in the face of adversity.  For more on last night, check the reaction, the post-game report, the post-game pod, and today’s morning coffee.

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