While it doesn’t have the cliché drama of “will the fans boo or cheer” that a game at Scotiabank Arena would, a matchup between Kawhi Leonard and the team he just won a championship with still carries a lot of clout. With the NBA’s attention on them, the Raptors get that limelight tonight.
Ask people two days ago whether they thought the Raptors could avenge their free agency loss by beating Kawhi and the LA Clippers, given that Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka were just lost due to injury, and the answers would’ve probably been less than optimistic. After last night, though, who knows? Toronto is coming off their most fun win of the season so far, as a depleted squad dug into a bench we didn’t even know existed (43 points to be exact) to beat the streaking Lakers.
Seeing guys like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris Boucher, and Terence Davis go off isn’t just an emotional high, either. From a basketball perspective, those three specifically having strong showings should have Toronto fans feeling better about their chances tonight. Sure, the Raptors are on a back-to-back, but energetic, transition-focused play can work against a Clippers team that’s been leaning on their depth to win so far this season.
Still, energy is the key here. The Raptors have to bring it. We’ll get to see how much is left in the tank after an emotional win last night. As I mentioned in the preview, the motivation is innate in a game like this. Toronto, whether they’ll admit to it publicly or not, probably feel some kind of drive to show Leonard how they can perform without him. They’ll get their chance tonight.
Here’s the game details. Let’s watch.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet One, 10:30 PM ET
Toronto — Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol
Los Angeles — Patrick Beverley, Landry Shamet, Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Patterson, Ivica Zubac
Toronto — Kyle Lowry (out - thumb), Serge Ibaka (out - ankle), Patrick McCaw (out - knee)
Los Angeles — Paul George (out - rehab)