Coming off a frustrating 132-125 home loss against Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, where DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka, and Dwane Casey all got ejected and their 11-game win streak snapped, Casey called for “fairness and consistency” across the league. Questionable calls and non-calls in the fourth left a blemish on what was up until then an exciting game. Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams played spectacularly propelling OKC to the victory, but Toronto were within striking distance before tempers boiled over.
Now the Raptors are in Orlando, on the front end of a back-to-back with the Cavaliers waiting in Cleveland on Wednesday. In the prior encounter against the Magic, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and Jacob Poeltl helped propel Toronto to cap off a fantastic February. This time Raptors may be without Steady Freddy, but Dwane Casey should make sure that Raptors take care of business before Wednesday nights contest against the eastern conference player of the week and best player on the planet, LeBron James.
Here are details for tonight’s game:
Where to Watch
TSN4/5, 7:00 PM EST
Toronto – Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas
Orlando – D.J. Augustin, Jonathon Simmons, Mario Hezonja, Jonathan Isaac, Nikola Vucevic
Toronto – Fred VanVleet (wrist – day-to-day)
Orlando – Evan Fournier (sprained left knee – out), Aaron Gordon (Concussion – questionable), Terrence Ross (sprained right knee – out)
Take Care of Business
After an overtime win against the Mavericks and a frustrating physical loss to the visiting Thunder on Sunday afternoon, the Raptors must avoid a lethargic effort against the Magic. With Lebron and company waiting in Cleveland tomorrow night, the Raptors have another gruelling game on the back end of a back-to-back.
The Magic’s last game was on Friday against the Celtics, a 92-83 loss at home, while the Raptors are coming off a span of eight games in 12 days. Prior to the loss against the Celtics, Orlando had won three straight home games, all after the 117-104 Toronto win in late February. But they are still the Magic, who are 21-49, missing their best player, and their only competition is with other NBA bottom dwellers for the best odds in the lottery.
Yak and Skills
In the previous meeting, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl combined for 27 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists, four blocks, and four steals. Just another day for the anyone named Lebron, but for two sophomore bigs coming off the bench, its pretty impressive. Yak and Skills outplayed the starting bigs — in a game that was closer than it appeared — by wreaking havoc with their energy on both sides of the court and ultimately playing the whole fourth quarter, in which they outscored the Magic 27-15.
The Raptors need the bench mob to play with the same energy they’ve played with all year. With Fred VanVleet day-to-day with a wrist injury and DeMar DeRozan needing a much-needed rest, look for increased minutes for Norman Powell and Lorenzo Brown.
With less than 15 games remaining in the season for the Raptors, winning the winnable games is important to locking up that number one seed. The Raptors have done an excellent job all season against teams under .500, posting a 31-2 record. The Celtics did Toronto a favour by losing to the Pelicans, helping the Raptors keep that five game lead for the first seed.
Orlando is on the front end of a back-to-back for the Raptors, but all eyes are understandably looking at the Wednesday night game in Cleveland. With the best Raptor team in franchise history visiting a place in which they haven’t won a meaningful game since the 2014-15 season, and the 133-99 loss on national television still fresh on the mind of the greatest player in the world, who could focus on the 14th place Magic? Having said all that, trust that Dwane Casey and the coaching staff will get the Raptors focused for tonight’s contest first and foremost.