Much like the Raptors players are probably feeling, you might be having a hard time getting up for a Sunday pseudo-matinee game against the lowly Orlando Magic. Toronto is a touchdown clear of the glob of teams battling it out for the three-seed, and the remaining games on the schedule are beginning to feel like an inconvenient formality as the playoffs draw near.
But the Raptors still have things to play for. Most notably, a win against Orlando will bring the Raptors within a game of the Cavaliers for the top seed in the Eastern Conference (no, don't get started with the "but that will put them in line to play Chicago" nonsense).
There's no doubt that any hope the Raptors have when it comes to challenging Cleveland in a hypothetical Conference Finals match-up is reliant on having home court advantage. Wins still matter for this team, which may explain why it looks like Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will both play - despite there being an opportunity to get one or both of them four days off by resting them this afternoon.
Perhaps one member of the back court tandem would have gotten a breather if Toronto wasn't already short handed. Dwane Casey ruled Patrick Patterson (ankle) out for today's game and said Jonas Valanciunas (hand) is available, but isn't expected to be put to use per Josh Lewenvbeg.
Orlando is missing bodies as well. Nikola Vucevic will miss the game with a groin injury. Meanwhile, noted Raptor-destroyer Ersan Ilyasova will play despite being a game-time decision with a knee issue.
Magic starters: Jennings, Oladipo, Fournier, Gordon & Dedmon.— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) March 20, 2016
Same starters for Raptors: Lowry/DeRozan/Powell/Scola/Biyombo. Patterson officially ruled out. JV is active but isn't expected to play— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) March 20, 2016
Without Patterson, the Raptors may have some trouble containing the athletic specimen that is Aaron Gordon, whose improved play of late was pointed out by Harsh Dave in our game preview, here.
Let's get geared up and see how it all unfolds. Comment away.