Lunchbox Links: Vince Carter, Fields Out Again, Raptors' Big-men Struggling

Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Mmmm...all the Raptors news you can snack on while you chow down.

It's Vince Carter Day in Raptor-land.

Not because his number is being retired or anything of the sort, but more because Carter may be making his final trek to Toronto as an NBA player, his Dallas Mavericks in town tonight to face the Raptors.  Carter has contemplated retirement so suddenly tonight's game has taken on a bit of a different tone.

I gave my thoughts about Carter's legacy yesterday to the Toronto Star's Zoe McKnight in her piece on the topic, and earlier today, our own Braedon Clark gave his take.

Around the local media, some nice reads on the subject by the likes of The Star's Cathal Kelly, and Raptorsrepublic's Blake Murphy, who takes Raptors' fans step-by-step down memory lane. Sportsnet will also be doing a full piece on the subject at some point this evening.

Outside of all the Vince talk however, there's a game to be played tonight, an important one pitting the suddenly slumping Raptors against a fairly tough foe in the Mavericks.  Where did things go wrong?  Wasn't this the team that SB Nation recently featured an entire podcast on? The National Post's Eric Koreen points to a number of factors in his assessment of the Raps' recent play, including the struggles of starting big men Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas.

The Amir piece is especially strange considering up to the past week, he again looked like one of the team MVP's on the season, and one main reasons the club has thrived of late.  He was nominated by SB Nation as a film-room All-Star, and was fifth in MVP voting on Gotbuckets.com's APM leader board! And yet his recent play has him scoring a C- on Ryan Wolstat's mid-season Raptors' report card over at the Toronto Sun!

One player though who's been playing on another level of late despite his club's struggles is Kyle Lowry.  Lowry was voted in as part of Zach Lowe's Eastern Conference NBA All-Star team, the lone Raptor to be included, and Sportsnet's Megan Robinson writes that his play this season could be attributed in part to becoming a husband and father this past summer.

Whatever the case, the team is going to need Lowry to keep playing at this level over the next stretch of games, which includes a big contest versus the suddenly hot Brooklyn Nets.  Toronto's schedule gets a lot easier in the second half of the season, so Lowry and co. will have an opportunity to make up some of the ground they lost over the past week.

They will be doing it without Landry Fields however.

The Raptors announced about an hour ago that Fields underwent "a minor surgical procedure yesterday to address the ulnar nerve on his right wrirst."

He'll be out for at least the next three weeks and considering his play this season, it may be a lot longer than that before he sees meaningful minutes.

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