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Raptors vs. Clippers Game Thread: The pre-season kicks off in style

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Here we go for the first “Raptors game” of the 2017-18 season. Giddy up.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

And sometimes the NBA season sneaks up on you.

Here we are on what is the first day of the Raptors’ pre-season — October 1st — and I lost track of the whole dang thing. For the rest of the pre-season, and the regular season (obviously), we’ll be coming to you with a morning game preview, a live-action game thread, and a recap. Long time fans of HQ know the drill by now, and new readers should catch on soon enough. As I stumble in here breathlessly (I drove back from Pittsburgh this afternoon), allow me to say: welcome to the Toronto Raptors’ 2017-18 season. We’re glad you’re here.

The Raptors are out on the west coast having just run through their training camp in Victoria, BC. Tonight they take on the Los Angeles Clippers in... [checks paper, then squints] Hawaii.

It’s a hard life. Here are some things to keep in mind for the game.

Where to Watch: Sportsnet One at 10pm

Starters:

Raptors - Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, TBD below, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas

Clippers - Milos Teodosic, Austin Rivers, Danilo Gallinari, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan

Injuries:

Raptors - Malcolm Miller, OG Anunoby, according to reports:

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These Are The New Clippers

A word on the opponent: this is the first year in six seasons in which the Clippers will not be guided by basketball genius Chris Paul. In his stead, LA will trot out a murderer’s row of dudes at guard: Euro darling Milos Teodosic, pest Patrick Beverley, coach’s son Doc Rivers, and our old friend Lou Williams. There are also some gentleman named Jawun Evans, Tyrone Wallace, Sindarius Thornwell, and C.J. Williams, but, quite frankly, some of those guys sound made up. Ah it’s good to be back.

Without Paul, the Clippers have officially reverted back to being Blake Griffin’s team. This is a bold move after Griffin’s last couple of tough seasons in which he was plagued by injury (including one procured after trying to punch a team staffer). Nevertheless, here we are. The Clips also managed to add should-have-been-a-Raptor Danilo Gallinari, Sam Dekker, and a Plumlee — but I’m not going to tell you which one. Good luck, Los Angeles!

Who Starts for Toronto?

The top story for the Raptors is who will start at small forward for the season. If tonight’s game is any indication at all, it’ll be C.J. Miles... because he’s starting tonight.

I can already see the angry comments. And unlike many of the other times: I think the complaints are valid!

Yes, yes, some caveats: one pre-season game is in no way indicative of where the Raptors will head for the other four pre-season games, 82 regular season games, and who knows how many playoff games. Many things can change. But starting Miles tonight suggests which way coach Dwane Casey is leaning and, again, I don’t love it. Me personally, I’d start Norman Powell, get him in with the starting group, let him play off of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, and then bring in Miles to provide some much needed shooting off the bench. It’s the perfect plan. Bring on the rage!

Let’s Have Fun!

Wait, maybe let’s not rage just yet. The NBA season is (almost, kind of) back! Let’s just take a moment to celebrate that fact before we start rioting across the internet. Guys, life’s too short.