The Raptors got things back on track Wednesday night, hammering the lowly Philadelphia 76ers. It was a win you have to get, and it was really never in doubt. The fact that Bruno Caboclo, Bebe Noguiera and Delon Wright all saw time on the floor tells you just about everything you need to know.
After hiring offensive wizard Alvin Gentry as coach in the off-season, many expected New Orleans to take a big jump forward this year. However, the Pelicans come into Toronto sporting a moribund 2-6 record, and as the most banged up team in the Association. Case in point: they just signed Jimmer 'Gimme the Rock' Fredette, availing the league's little-used 'injury hardship' exemption. This is a team that has started Nate Robinson, Ish Smith, Kendrick Perkins, Alonzo Gee, Alexis Ajinca, Dante Cunningham and/or Luke Babbitt in many games so far. I mean, holy mother of god. That looks like the waiver wire in a 20 team fantasy league. Norris Cole and Tyreke Evans have yet to play this season, while Perkins and and Quincy Pondexter are both out for Friday's game.
Things to Watch For:
Will AD Play?
Anthony Davis is obviously the straw that stirs the delicious smoothie that's brewing down in New Orleans. (If you caught that Smoothie King Center joke, you get a gold star.) Oddly enough, he's missed his last three games against Toronto, and tonight's game might make it four. He's currently listed as questionable with a hip strain. Without AD in the lineup, the Pellies turn from skeleton crew into an outright travesty, so monitor this situation closely.
Secondary Scoring for Toronto
Speaking of injuries, both DeMarre Carroll (plantar fasciitis) and Terrence Ross (left thumb) are expected to sit this one out for the Raptors. James Johnson has started the past two games in place of the injured Carroll and will likely do so again, but the substitutions will be interesting to watch. In Toronto's loss against New York, Coach Casey went with a tight rotation, giving Cory Joseph big minutes and using Anthony Bennett in a significant role. Against Philadelphia on Wednesday, this appeared to have shifted, with Norman Powell getting the 8th man minutes normally allocated to Ross. Powell did more with his floor time than Bennett, though he may have been a bit trigger happy. Where Casey goes Friday may give an indication as to how the rotation will shake out until the team is back to full strength.
Even if Anthony Davis doesn't play, the Pelicans are hoping to receive a lift from oft-injured point guard Jrue 'Don't Call Me Drew' Holiday. After sitting out the second half of a back-to-back on Wednesday, Holiday is likely to suit up against Toronto this Friday. If he can't go (he's officially listed as questionable, but expected to play), expect Skinny Kyle Lowry to get fat again, as he'll feast on Ish Smith and Toney Douglas.
Where to Watch: TSN at 7:30pm EST