A wise basketball leader knows you can only coach the team you have. That’s what Raptors coach Nick Nurse has to keep in mind as he prepares for tonight’s game against the Indiana Pacers. Down Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, and Jonas Valanciunas, he has to make things work regardless — there’s no use complaining about it. “Get excited about who is available,” said Nurse prior to tip-off. “Because we’ve got 12 interesting guys available tonight. We’re gonna figure out if we can’t get them to play really well together.”
Ahh, interesting! But what does it mean in practice? The Raptors still have a healthy Danny Green, who has played in every game this season, and Kawhi Leonard, who has not (but remains awesome anyway). Pascal Siakam is back in the lineup too, as is Fred VanVleet (who is starting in this one). Toronto will need them all to take on a hot Pacers team. But it’s at the pivot when things get really interesting for the Raptors.
For one, Greg Monroe is the only other power player on the roster. Yes, the Raptors can roll out Kawhi at the 4, or try OG in that spot — especially given the Pacers’ relatively smaller stature — but Moose remains the only true proven NBA big man. This is less than ideal for an entire basketball game. Which brings us to number two: after Monroe, the Raps have... hey, Chris Boucher!
Given the situation, Nurse was asked about Boucher at length prior to tip-off. It feels like we’ll see a bunch of the young Montreal native tonight because, well, there really is no other option. Nurse even said that Boucher may be the first sub off the bench tonight for Toronto, if only to get him in there playing with four established starters. We’ll see if that comes to pass. In the mean time, you can read up on what Boucher’s been doing in the G League thanks to our guy JD Quirante. (Spoiler: Boucher has been killing it there, but does have his weaknesses.)
That’s the Raptors heading into tonight’s game. For more pre-game information on the Pacers, check out Sully Akbari’s full preview here. The updated game details are below. Now, let’s watch.
Where to Watch:
TSN, 7:30pm EST
Toronto: Fred VanVleet, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Greg Monroe
Indiana: Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, Myles Turner
Toronto: Kyle Lowry (out), Serge Ibaka (out), Jonas Valanciunas (out)
Indiana: None! The lucky sons of guns...