It’s hard to sugar coat it — it’s been a miserable 24 hours to be a Toronto Raptors fan.
The curse of Dwane Casey continued to take its toll in Wednesday’s game against Detroit. Three core rotation players left that game with injuries, two of them looking to be relatively long-term. The Raptors are now on the other side, needing to navigate the next stretch of games without Pascal Siakam (groin pull), Norman Powell (shoulder subluxation) and Marc Gasol (hamstring) — adding to existing injuries to Matt Thomas and Stanley Johnson.
Here’s some news to brighten those clouds up, though: Fred VanVleet is making his return tonight after missing five games with knee soreness.
VanVleet is back tonight.— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) December 20, 2019
VanVleet will resume his position at the starting two guard next to Kyle Lowry, with Patrick McCaw and OG Anunoby shifting down at forward next to Serge Ibaka. The move by Nick Nurse is a smaller lineup, and one that keeps Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in his bench energy role while promoting McCaw into starters’ minutes.
After that, a thinned bench will rely on more from Terence Davis and Chris Boucher, with Malcolm Miller also likely to see an uptick in time on the court.
That said, if there’s a team you want to play against to improve chemistry quickly among new lineups, it’s the Wizards. Washington has been a frisky 8-18, running out the league’s fourth best offence by rating and boasting one of the surprise stories of the NBA in Davis Bertans. The ex-Spur is shredding the twine from outside, shooting 46.2% from three on 8.6 attempts per game. Bradley Beal has also become more of an offensive maestro, and it’ll be great to have VanVleet back as the primary defender on Washington’s superstar.
Still, the Wizards have struggled on defence — last in the NBA by rating at 116.1 — and if there’s something the Raptors need right now, it’s an offensive track meet. Get the new rotation feeling good, score some buckets, and hopefully start this new chapter of the 2019-20 season with a win.
Here are the game details.
Where to Watch
TSN, 7:30 PM ET
Toronto — Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Patrick McCaw, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka
Washington — Bradley Beal, Isaiah Thomas, Isaac Bonga, Davis Bertans, Ian Mahinmi
Toronto — Pascal Siakam (out - groin), Norman Powell (out - shoulder), Marc Gasol (out - hamstring), Stanley Johnson (out - groin), Matt Thomas (out - finger)
Washington — Thomas Bryant (out - foot), Rui Hachimura (out - groin), Jordan McRae (out - finger), C.J. Miles (out - wrist), Moritz Wagner (out - ankle), John Wall (out - Achilles)