Toronto (12-14) and Sacramento (11-16) face off for the second time this season, however the Kings roll in with Alvin Gentry as their head coach instead of Luke Walton. This is because 10 games ago, Sac Town was so awful against Utah that a drunk fan literally puked on their home court. What a way to go out, both fan and coach. Not posting the footage here because that’s nasty.
Nobody could possibly be happier with the coaching change than Marvin Bagley, who in his fourth year has unfortunately been labeled as “the guy the Kings took over Luka Doncic second overall.” Bagley did not play in 13 of 17 games that Walton coached this season before getting fired. The former Duke star only scored 15 points combined in the four games he appeared in. Gentry has a 5-5 record since taking over compared to Walton’s 6-11, and Bagley has played in eight of those 10 games including his first start this season in Sacramento’s last loss at Cleveland. Overall, Bagley is averaging 9.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in 21.8 minutes under Gentry.
Meanwhile the Raptors last two games have ended in similar fashion defensively, praying a good look from three doesn’t fall. Mike Muscala’s did, Julius Randle’s didn’t. RJ Barrett’s shot was just desperation. It’s been stressful and a massive reason why once again is because the bench has only scored 10 (NY) and 14 (OKC) points in the last two games. Dalano Banton is actually a team worst -28 in only 18 minutes during this stretch. That’s bizarre.
Pascal Siakam is coming off a 3-18 game vs New York. The last time he shot that bad was 2-14 in Utah. Not exactly the same game because the defensive effort was much improved, but Sacramento could be what the doctor ordered part two. Pascal had a season-high 32 points (on 10-12 shooting!) vs the Kings the very next night. Manifesting some deja vu into existence.
The Raptors haven’t been a single game under .500 since November 19, when they improved to 8-9 by beating the….you guessed it. A win tonight would have them flirting with .500 once again.
Tip-Off: 7pm EST | TV: TSN 4/5 | Radio: TSN Radio 1050
Richaun Holmes has missed the last two games after being hit in the eye against Orlando last Wednesday. He remains out for this one.
PG: De’Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell
SG: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield
SF: Harrison Barnes, Terence Davis, Mo Harkless
PF: Marvin Bagley III, Chimezie Metu
C: Alex Len, Damion Jones, Tristan Thompson
Precious Achiuwa has entered the health and safety protocol. He hasn't tested positive but came in contact with somebody who did, so he's isolating as a precaution.
Raptors players and coaches continue to test negative.
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) December 12, 2021
That means another skeleton front court, something that’s painfully the norm lately.
Other Raps: Nothing new (yet) on OG Anunoby, Khem Birch or Goran Dragic. David Johnson is also listed as out.
PG: Fred VanVleet, Dalano Banton, Malachi Flynn
SG: Gary Trent Jr, Svi Mykhailiuk
SF: Scottie Barnes, Justin Champagnie, Isaac Bonga
PF: Pascal Siakam, Yuta Watanabe
C: Chris Boucher
Toronto is favoured by 4.5 points. Over/Under is 220.5.
My over/under prediction (7-3 this season): The Raptors point total in their last five games vs Sac Town is 108, 124, 144, 118 and 124 (123.6 ppg). Clearly Toronto’s offence isn’t scoring buckets like teams of old and Luke Walton isn’t coaching the Kings anymore, but I’m still going off the Raps historically destroying Sacramento’s efence. The Kings allow 114 points a game, good for second worst in the NBA. Give me the over. The Raptors operate at one of the slowest paces in the league, but they’ll find some quick buckets tonight.