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Gameday: Warriors @ Raptors, April 2

Two former champions face-off amidst challenging times and unanticipated self-reflection.

8 mins read
Photo via CTV

Positive vibes here only.

Take solace with Wednesday night’s many silver linings:

  • Stanley J: 4/5 on some smooth as Kraft Peanut Butter takes to the hole and only 0/1 on completely out-of-control leaps into the lane with no idea what to do next.
  • Gary Trent Jr.: career-high 31 points (that 3rd quarter FT-steal-3pointer sequence was SICK!). Also encouraging to see several – with various levels of success – drives to the hole. Perhaps, a dynamic GTJ on the horizon(?).
  • Freddy V: 9 stocks. Love it. Lovvveee it. He was on dudes like white on rice.
  • OG: continues swallowing players whole; slowly metamorphosing into big-major-problem-for-teams-to-deal-with Defender Mode.
  • Tank-a-thon: a two-for-one; providing a fellow tanker an unwanted win.
  • 6.5: number of games out of fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
  • Lockdowns: Mucho love and power to those of you who must, again, hunker down. But! MORE EXCUSES to watch both March Madness Final Fours and the NBA. So there’s that.

The Skinny

We’re limping back to Tampa. Maybe bad luck. Maybe fatigue. But the Field Hospital’s cots are filling up.

Kyle’s engorged, purple toe (that’s at least how I envision it looking) requires two weeksish of healing. Rodney Hood’s hip looks troubling and is off to get an MRI. Stanley tweaked something. Boucher had a really bad fall that turned out fine. I thought I saw OG grimace.

Of course, we’ve had two gentlemen in Health and Safety Protocols. McCaw and Harris are both out too. And our three best available players, as FVV mentioned in the OKC post-game interview, are still enduring and understanding the effects COVID and/or the long time away from the court has had on their bodies.

I have always had faith in this team. It felt like they could, at any moment, rattle off 10 of 13 wins to get back in the race. But I realize now, that this team has endured a lot, a lot. They were shallow to begin with; now, they’re skeletally thin. And they’re labouring. Mentally, physically, existentially.

This team is bearing the brunt of what a worst-case-scenario COVID-era, NBA season could look like. And, folks, it ain’t pretty. It’s time to withhold judgment on effort and cease retrospectives on roster management.

Instead, let’s celebrate the resilience they have shown thus far by enjoying the ups and downs of each individual game of basketball.

Funny enough, the Golden State Warriors are kinda in the same pickle.

I know, their record is stellar compared to ours: 23-25. But in the merciless Western Conference, a .500 winning percentage is play-in material at best. As of right now, they’re 10th competing with seven other teams.

True, they have a pretty cinch schedule moving forward. But they’re trending downward losing ten of their last fifteen and five of their last six.

What makes me think of the Warriors and Raptors as same same but different is that (A) their offseason roster management were follies, (B) their rosters have underperformed a bit (I imagine there were higher expectations for James Wiseman and Kelly Oubre Jr., foolishly or not); and (C) they both felt, and still feel, that they have what it takes to pull it together. Hell, I still do.

But the reality is – becoming more clear at least – that “pulling it together” is probably a bang-your-head-on-the-door type of ceiling. I watched them last night; they emanated futility the same way the Raptors currently do: “Where the Heck are all their points going to come from?”

The two teams’ almost-silent trade deadline was perhaps a silent concession. Finals aspirations for two former champions now foolhardy.

Okay, okay, you’re right. This kind of nihilistic talk is too premature. There’s lots of Bball left, Adon – get your head out of the storm clouds. Just hope the best for two successful franchises.

*Shakes Head*

So we had a barnburner when these two played last. The final seconds of the game revealed the hex placed upon Pascal Siakam game-winners (whoever cast it added a little bit of flair by making them all roll-in-and-out).

The Raptors really should have won the affair. They held Curry to eleven points on 13% shooting – likkkeee what!? The other two leading scorers, Andrew Wiggins and Oubre, also shot miserably. The whole team was 13/46 from three.

What it came down to, is what it always comes down to this season for the Raptors. The Warriors’ bench scored 46 points. Ours: 23. Literally half.

That’s it right there. You cannot sustain 48 minutes of winning basketball with more than half your roster giving you rotten potatoes for production. The Raptors still have the 28th worst scoring bench, the Warriors the 9th best.

There’s no reason, especially with our plethora, yes plethora, of injuries to suggest our bench is going to do any better this time around. GSW is playing on the latter part of a back-to-back after losing to the Miami Heat. Maybe that’ll equal the endurance playing field some. Then again, the way the Raptors give up the three lately, I’m afraid, very afraid.

The last time these two met, we wondered what was wrong with the Raptors. This time around, we know. Now, it’s figuring out what to do about it.

Game Info

Tip-off: 7pm ET | TV: SN1, SNE, SNO; NBCS-BA | Radio: SN 590 The Fan

Raptors Lineup

It’s thin.

Paul Watson is out under Health and Safety Protocols.

Kyle Lowry (toe), Rodney Hood (hip), Patrick McCaw (knee), and Jalen Harris (hip) out.

Stanley Johnson (ankle) we’ll see.

PG: Malachi Flynn

SG: Fred VanVleet, DeAndre’ Bembry

SF: Gary Trent Jr.

PF: OG Anunoby, Chris Boucher, Yuta Watanabe

C: Pascal Siakam, Aron Baynes

Warriors Lineup

Jordan Poole and Kevon Looney both tweaked ankles last night and are day-to-day.

Eric Paschal (wrist) day-to-day.

PG: Stephen Curry, Mycal Mulder, Nico Mannion

SG: Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damion Lee

SF: Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre Jr., Kent Bazemore

PF: Draymond Green, Alen Smailagić

C: James Wiseman

The Line

The Raptors are gifted 3.5 points. That’s one Steph Curry And-One away from meaning nothing. So, a bit tighter than I’d want.

The Over-Under is 228.5, wellllll above their last outing’s total.

Bet wisely, friends.

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