Part of the joy of writing articles here at Raptors HQ Content Incorporated is finding yourself a great lead image. It's usually a fun little exercise -- choose a picture, zoom in awkwardly on a funny face, profit with laughs.
When the Raptors play the Grizzlies, though, this little step turns into a damn process. You see, every time Memphis comes to town, they're decimated by injuries. I find myself in personal crisis, clicking page after page, trying to find a photo of someone who's actually active. Surprise, surprise -- tonight is no exception! The Raptors will take on a Grizzlies team that dresses just nine guys.
Let's run it down. Mike Conley is out indefinitely with a transverse process fracture, which sounds like something a heptapod from Arrival would suffer through. Zach Randolph will miss the game for personal reasons. Chandler Parsons has a knee injury. Brendan Wright and James Ennis are also on the "out" list. Vince Carter, to the devastation of many, will be sitting with a hip strain in what might be his last appearance at Air Canada Centre. Carter's contract expires at the end of the season, when he'll be 40 years old. Indeed, these days "grit and grind" refers less to Memphis' defence and more to the collective team's joints rubbing against each other in horrific ways.
This leaves the Raptors to play a team wholly living off Marc Gasol. You have to feel for David Fizdale and company, whose surprise 11-7 start has put them near the top of the Western Conference. With so much injury turmoil, though, it seems like the Grizzlies are back where they were at the end of last year -- just trying to hang on through all the missing bodies.
For the Raptors, this second of a six-game home stand will be another win opportunity, and another game where defence and stopping the emergence of a new hero will be key.
For a more detailed preview, check out Stephen Campbell's work from this morning. Also, get into Sean Woodley's excellent breakdown of the baby Raptors in garbage time. After all that reading, feel free to start your comments.