The Raptors take on the Blazers at 6PM EST in the NBA’s Bubble. Here are the three points for this game:
Nurse did say that Gasol would be playing tonight after missing the first game so tune in to see the conclusion of a metamorphosis that Kafka could write home about. Other than that expect this to be another game where we’re going to see the full roster hit the court to get a run in. I find that calling this a scrimmage keeps the reactions and overreactions in check. I like this concept and would like to rename the Regular Season to Scrimmage Season so that we all take its importance with the appropriate metric ton of salt. What does “regular” mean anyway?
The Blazers appear to be taking a slightly different approach with Terry Stotts promising to treat the rotations similar to a regular game:
Stotts also said he'll be rotating players in Sunday's scrimmage similar to how he'd play a regular game, though he has not decided how many minutes he'll play the starters.
— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) July 25, 2020
Nurse may start off treating this like an extended practice but if Stotts does make things serious we should expect Nurse to respond in kind. I’d like to see OG find a rhythm heading into the post-season. He played a team-high 23 minutes in the Rockets win but struggled from the floor with only five points on 2-6 shooting. If we do go with a “jumbo lineup” in the new age of positionless basketball, OG’s importance cannot be overstated, especially as a floor spacer who can put in the floor – he’s shooting a career-high 38.1% from three this year. His versatility and two-way game allow him to be plugged into all sorts of situational lineups so a high-performing OG is an X2 Factor.
Update: Lillard has been ruled out of tonight’s game:
Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard will be given today’s scrimmage off against the Toronto Raptors, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 26, 2020
So no Damian Lillard vs Kyle Lowry. The latter had 11 points in 19 minutes which is a fair run for a guy who hasn’t played in months and whose minutes probably need to be watched heading into the playoffs. Let’s see if Matt Thomas gets a bit of a run but that also depends on whether Kyle’s Whoop app is telling him he’s good for tonight.
A story between the lines can be Zach Collins vs Serge Ibaka. Collins was hailed by Lillard as one of the Blazers best defenders. The Blazers are 3.5 games behind Memphis for the final playoff spot and are likely not going to make it. Playing the defending champs gives them an opportunity to make a statement more to themselves than anyone else.
The game is at 6PM on Sportsnet (TV) and TSN 1050 (radio).
On an entirely different note, I discovered that Pascal Siakam is the East’s best isolation scorer. What’s absolutely gaudy about that link is where Siakam averages 3.8 points in such situations James Harden is at 16.2 and the next guy after is Russell Westbrook at 6.6. Lillard is at 5.1. Of course, none of this matters. Enjoy the game.