If you can believe it, the Raptors are still playing in the NBA Summer League. Let that fact just settle in. Toronto went winless in the opening round, playing poorly throughout, and yet they now stand with a chance to win the whole tournament. Today, the Cleveland Cavaliers stand in the way — for a change.
There’s no word yet what the status is for OG Anunoby today, or for the Cavaliers’ Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic. All three didn’t play in their teams’ previous games, but now, two days from the end and with the title in reach, maybe they’ll all get back on the court. In lieu of that, look for the Cavaliers to find a lot of time for recent draft pick Collin Sexton. As for the Raptors, it’s anyone’s guess at this point — though the betting line is moving hard towards another big performance from Rawle Alkins.
In any case, we may as well prepare. Below are your game details, with a few things to watch in advance of the continuation of the Raptors’ miracle run.
Where to Watch:
NBA League Pass, 6:00pm EST
Toronto — Rawle Alkins, Malachi Richardson, Codi Miller-McIntyre, Alfonzo McKinnie, Shevon Thompson
Cleveland — Collin Sexton, John Holland, Marcus Lee, Jamel Artis, Okaro White
Toronto — Malcolm Miller (shoulder), Fuquan Edwin (knee), OG Anunoby (rest), Jordan Loyd (day-to-day)
Jordan Loyd (back spasms) will not return. Loyd had seven points in 10 minutes in the first half. #Wethenorh— RaptorsMR (@RaptorsMR) July 14, 2018
Cleveland — Cedi Osman (rest), Ante Zizic (rest)
Next Man Up
OK, so OG Anunoby maybe isn’t playing, and that means another Toronto player could be the guy. Maybe Alkins will continue his run atop the Raptors pecking order, or maybe he won’t. Summer League is random like that, which can be fun if you’re fixing for some NBA-adjace action, well on into July. I didn’t think the Raptors would be here, but... we are here.
So then, who’s pulling the weight? Alkins was a human dynamo yesterday, dropping 25 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing two assists. For good measure he shot 63 percent from the field, and 71 percent from three. Related: Alkins is looking to book himself a guaranteed NBA job.
The Raptors have also benefited from the shooting of Malachi Richardson as of late. He had 14 points yesterday, with a stout 50 percent from 3 outing. As one of the more pedigreed players on the team, this is good to see. Me personally, I’d keep an eye on Giddy Potts. He’s a bit more on the bubble right now, but after 10 points yesterday, you can bet he’ll try for something again tonight.
How Are They Doing This?
Put all of the above together and what do we get: the Raptors shot 43 percent from the field yesterday, and a solid 44 percent from three (which is a clear difference maker). They had 18 turnovers, which didn’t help, and the rebounding battle was pretty even — but maybe it really was just a matter of changing up the lineups.
Toronto sat Tryggvi Hlinason, Augusto Lima, Andrew Rowsey, along with Anunoby for the previous game (and they are without Miller, who’s contract offer has been withdrawn; it’s a cold world) for the previous game. As a result, the team relied more on Chris Boucher, along with Alkins and Potts, and even Marquis Teague, the most experienced NBA-er on the roster, was able to help out.
I don’t want to say this has been the different for Toronto, but it’ll be interesting to see if their title run continues with this group of players.
As my guy Jacob revealed the other day, I’m not necessarily engaged with the Raptors’ streak in this tournament. I’m writing this with the World Cup final on a TV in ferry station in Prince Rupert, BC. We’re on our way to Haida Gwaii, and somehow the Raptors are still working away in Vegas. Props to them.
We’ll have Jacob do the recap for tonight’s game — so keep an eye open. And then, yes, let’s all continue on with our vacation, including the Raptors.