The Toronto Raptors (2-0) couldn’t ask for much more in two blowout victories over the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers.
The offence has looked impressive averaging 122.5 points per game (second in the NBA) thanks in large part to more ball movement and a commitment to the three-point shot.
The Raptors are fourth in the NBA with in assists per game (24.5) and three-point field goals made per game (13.0) and only behind the Rockets with 36.5 three-point attempts per game.
Now they’ll embark on a season-long six-game road trip which begins against the San Antonio Spurs — the team that’s made ball movement look like poetic art.
Where to watch:
TSN2 at 8:30 pm
Raptors - Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka, Jakob Poeltl?
Spurs - Dejounte Murray, Danny Green, Kyle Anderson, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol
Raptors - Malcolm Miller, Jonas Valanciunas
Spurs - Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker
Who Steps In For Jonas?
The Raptors’ starting centre left Saturday’s game against the 76ers after spraining his left ankle in what seems to be a yearly tradition for the Lithuanian big man. The team announced on Sunday that he is out for Monday’s game and will be re-evaluated on a regular basis. Valanciunas was coming off another strong opening night performance scoring 23 points and 15 rebounds against the Bulls.
Jakob Poeltl would seem to be the logical replacement having logged 17 and 16 minutes in the first couple of games as the backup centre.
Yak attack x Two #RTZ pic.twitter.com/Ji0bdT8g02— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 22, 2017
Head coach Dwane Casey could very well go with Lucas Nogueira who scored 10 points and nine rebounds in Valanciunas’ absence against the Sixers. Both players have demonstrated some great energy on both ends of the floor and the hope is that this carries over with more minutes.
Oh BEBE! #RTZ pic.twitter.com/qTVecZ9WkC— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 22, 2017
Alternative options could see Pascal Siakam slide into the power forward spot where he started 38 games in his rookie year while Serge Ibaka would shift to the five.
C.J Miles is another possibility as a small-ball four but Casey would probably prefer keeping his offensive firepower with the second unit.
Pair of Missing Stars
The Spurs will be without starting point guard Tony Parker, who ruptured his left quadriceps tendon in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals and possibly Kawhi Leonard. The All-Star small forward sat out the Spurs’ first two games with a quad injury and doesn’t appear to be ready to make his season debut just yet.
Kawhi Leonard boarding the #Spurs charter flight for Chicago. #KSATsports #KSATnews pic.twitter.com/Z3lgfQOtMc— Larry Ramirez (@LRam2) October 20, 2017
In it’s 22-year franchise history, Toronto has only won four meetings in San Antonio. Without two of their best offensive contributors and their top defender, the Raptors need to take advantage of this opportunity.
No! Not this guy!
Monday will be the Raptors’ first look at old friend Rudy Gay who initially won over fans as the talented wing player the franchise had lacked for some time, before the love affair faded and he infamously banned stat sheets from the locker room.
The ex-UCONN star is looking to bounce back after rupturing his Achilles tendon last season but dropped 23 points in both meetings against his former club before his season came to an early close.
Gay has become one of the primary offensive options off the bench for scoring 14 and 12 points in the Spurs’ pair of games respectively.