Let the 19th away game of the season begin.
Talent-laden and in search of an identity, these Kings should represent a foothold for members of the Raptors to get their offense back into shape. They are, by defensive rating, the NBA’s worst defensive team and it’s by a steep margin. The difference between the Kings and the 29th ranked defense is the same as teams ranked 29 and 23. It was the Suns that seemed like the jumping off point for Pascal Siakam’s dominant stretch as an offensive fulcrum, with a lot of his impressive play coming from post-up opportunities. The Hornets and the Heat loaded up with zone and robbed him of his newfound confidence, then he dealt with the groin injury, and now we’re here.
Defensively, this should represent a pretty good opportunity for the Raptors to flex their muscles as a defense that had ‘turned the corner’ for lack a of a better term – only for a couple games to balloon their defensive rating back up to 15th after a short spurt in the top-10. The Kings attack in a lot of different ways and aren’t particularly dependent on a single star to turn the key of their offense. As many know, the Raptors have been extremely good at locking in on primary actions this year (Brogdon-Turner pick n’ roll withstanding), but have been decimated by second-side action. The comeuppance of a rotation heavy defense, I suppose. And while they’ve transitioned to more switches and less rotations, you still have to be really good at the point of attack if you’re going to switch freely, and that hasn’t always been the case.
They’ve been in a tough spot. OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam have missed games, and they’re the two best defenders on the team. Kyle Lowry remains an incredibly crafty and cerebral team defender, but his point-of-attack defense has been far less potent so far this season. Taking injuries into account, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby have been the Raptors most consistent performers this season. Not the two players (Lowry, Siakam) who closed out the All-Star game for team Giannis last year.
Anunoby is questionable for this one, but it looks like the team will be fully healthy soon with his, and Patrick McCaw’s (!!!) returns on the horizon. McCaw the 3-time champ and role player with definitive utility, participated in non-contact practice the other day. Hopefully Anunoby returns today, and while McCaw is a little bit further down the line it wouldn’t hurt for him to get a shot at the rotating minutes at the back end of the rotation.
Ideally, VanVleet will get the De’Aaron Fox assignment in this one, and Lowry will track Buddy Hield off-ball. Aron Baynes has been much, much better as of late and while Richaun Holmes is still a superior player to him, this matchup should allow Baynes the comfort of roaming the paint defensively more often. Holmes is lethal from anywhere inside 15 feet, but you don’t really have to track him out any further.
If you want more on Richaun Holmes and why he’s the most logical trade target for the Raptors this season click here. You’ll also get to read about my close proximity to one of Mexico’s highest profile assassination’s of the 21st century.
“Holmes is a borderline top-60 player hiding in plain sight. He hasn’t dipped below 85th percentile in points-per-shot-attempt since his rookie year, flexing a remarkable short-roll pedigree that features one of the NBA’s most unique and potent floaters. He’s rugged at the rim and finishes above it. He’s got active hands to swat away and steal interior passes, he contests well at the rim, and he improves your rebounding on both sides of the floor. If that sounds like an extremely well-rounded big man to you, it’s because it is. And if the Kings don’t fancy themselves contenders this year, it would be wise to trade him because they likely won’t be able to match the offers he’ll receive in free agency this year due to cap restrictions.”
The Raptors should win this one.
Tipoff: 7:30pm EST | TV: Sportsnet | TheFan590
*If you want to catch me on the radio after the game, you can tune into TheFan590 at roughly 10:25pm EST. If you’d rather wait for the reaction pod, that’s just as well. You can even do both.*
OG Anunoby (left calf) is questionable, and Patrick McCaw is out.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Terence Davis, Malachi Flynn
SG: Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Matt Thomas, Jalen Harris
SF: OG Anunoby, Stanley Johnson, DeAndre’ Bembry, Paul Watson,
PF: Pascal Siakam, Yuta Watanabe
C: Aron Baynes, Chris Boucher
Jabari Parker, Nemanja Bjelica, and DaQuan Jeffries are all out.
PG: De’Aaron Fox, Cory Joseph
SG: Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, Kyle Guy, Jahmi’us Ramsey
SF: Harrison Barnes, Glenn Robinson III, Justin James, Robert Woodard II
PF: Marvin Bagley III, Chimezie Metu,
C: Richaun Holmes, Hassan Whiteside
Have a blessed day.