Gameday: Magic @ Raptors, April 16

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Apr 19, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) holds back Orlando Magic guard Terrence Ross (31) during the second half of game three of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors are two games back of the Bulls in the loss column for the 10th seed and the final play-in spot. Tonight they play the magic who are 3-7 in their last 10. The Bulls, losers of 4 straight and also 3-7 in their last 10 are in Memphis. Zach Lavine is out for them due to coronavirus protocols, which leaves the path to the 10th spot open for the Raptors with no other teams between them.

In their remaining schedule the Bulls play Miami, Milwaukee, and Brooklyn, all twice. They also face Philadelphia, Atlanta and Boston. The Raptors play Brooklyn twice, the Clippers twice, and have a head-to-head game against the Bulls, which looms large. The Bulls hold the tie-breaker so the Raptors have to make up three games.

That’s the situation in the playoff picture. Tonight it’s Orlando who are coming off a win against the Bulls, and a bit of a fire sale at the deadline where they gave up Vucevic, Fournier (their top two scorers), Aaron Gordon, leaving them with a starting lineup of Okeke, Ennis, Carter Jr., MCW, and Harris. The Raptors have lost to some pretty crappy teams this season (Minny, Detroit, OKC, Cavs, Wizards come to mind), and this one tonight should be classified as one of those “winnable” games. I would feel comfortable but given our history of having scrubs going off on us, this is anyone’s game. And the bookies only have the Raptors favored by two points.

The roster has been boosted by the presence of Khem Birch who will likely be added as a fringe piece in an already strong core. Pascal Siakam’s sinusoidal play is on a crest rather than a trough, and OG Anunoby is finding his form on offense, extending beyond his advertised skill-set to some aggressive hunting of shots.

For the first time in quite some time the Raptors defense looked like it could withstand a run, and it took me back to the days where the Raptors defense/rebounding was a strong suit which overwhelmed teams rather than their Achilles’ heel.  Let’s see if it holds tonight in what I was about to call a must-win game if we want to make the post-season. However, given the Bulls’ impending slide, we could probably get away with losing this (but not too many more) and still take this to the final day.

This is a battle between a team that is still figuring out if it wants to make the post-season against one that is desperately trying to sink to the bottom.

Game Info

7:30 PM TSN1, TSN4, TSN5, BSFL Radio: Sportsnet 590

Magic Lineup

PF: Chuma Okeke, Donta Hall

SF: James Ennis III, Robert Franks

C: Wendell Carter Jr.

PG: MCW, Cole Anthony, RJ Hampton

SG: Gary Harris, Terence Ross, Dwayne Bacon

Raptors Lineup

PG: Malachi Flynn

SG: Rodney Hood, Paul Watson Jr.

SF: OG Anunoby, Yuta Watanabe, Stanley Johnson

PF: Pascal Siakam, Khem Birch

C: Chris Boucher, Freddie Gillespie, Aron Baynes

Here’s what the official injury report looks like, who will play we’ll find out closer to tip-off:

The Line

Raptors favored by 2 with over/under of 221.5.

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