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Raptors road trip continues against Warriors: Preview, start time and more

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Toronto saved face Tuesday against Phoenix amid yet another injury plagued week. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel: Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol are all questionable for tonight’s contest against the Warriors.

NBA: Finals-Toronto Raptors at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It’ll be a late tip-off this evening on the west coast as Toronto visits the Warriors’ new arena — their first game against Golden State since closing their old area in Game 6 last June. One returning player from that squad will be on the floor however: Steph Curry is set to make his return from a hand injury, not coincidentally, tonight against the Raptors after playing just four games all season.

The good ol’ boys looked back to normal against a weak Suns squad, with Pascal Siakam dropping 33 points, plus Kyle Lowry’s 28, and Chris Boucher’s monster game off the bench. Without Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, Boucher’s minutes have become increasingly important. Against Charlotte and Denver, he was a no-show. But after the bench was called out by their coach for a lack of impact, Boucher responded with the best game of his career.

The Warriors field a significantly smaller team than Phoenix, Denver and Charlotte, but Boucher will still need to provide minutes similar to Tuesday’s, especially if the team sits Ibaka and Gasol for one more night.

Gasol’s impending return will be welcomed with open arms by everyone who watches this team. Having a full strength front court will do wonders for this squads ability to get buckets from their perimeter players — both with Ibaka’s premier pick-and-roll ability, and Gasol’s elite passing skills.

Siakam, for as good as he played against a porous Suns’ defense, has looked lackadaisical offensively since Gasol returned to the bench with the nagging hamstring injury. Not having to fight for every bucket against stronger post defenders will be a huge boon for his ability to score the ball.

Here are the details for tonight’s game:

Where to Watch:

TSN 1, 10:30 p.m. EST

Lineups:

Toronto — Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka

Golden State — Steph Curry, Damion Lee, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Andrew Wiggins, Marquese Chriss

Injuries:

Toronto — Fred VanVleet (shoulder — questionable), Serge Ibaka (knee — questionable), Marc Gasol (hamstring — questionable), Dewan Hernandez (ankle — out)

Golden State — Klay Thompson (ACL — out), Draymond Green (knee — questionable), Kevon Looney (hip — out), Ky Bowman (ankle — out), Alen Smailagic (quad — out)

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Curry’s Return

Curry will make his return against the Raptors Thursday night — a nod to the defending champs, no doubt — after playing only four games all year thanks to a significant hand injury he suffered back in November. While we probably won’t see a box-and-one zone defense employed by Nick Nurse, never rule anything out with this current iteration of Toronto.

The most intriguing story for the Warriors aside from Curry’s return will be his fit with Andrew Wiggins, who’s played something of a de facto point guard on nights when Draymond Green has sat. Wiggins was acquired by Golden State for D’Angelo Russell, and folks have no idea what coach Steve Kerr will whip up in the way of offense.

More O-D Anunoby

OG Anunoby gets another tough cover in Wiggins (an incredible sentence to type out), and Kyle Lowry will presumably pull top guard duties against Curry — although the Raptors would be prudent to employ the full court pressure that showed so much promise early in the season against Damian Lillard and LeBron James.

In that set, one of Anunoby or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (usually a long, athletic forward) picks up the lead ball handler on the opposing offense and hounds them until they can’t find breathing room. Since the injuries began dropping players however, that set has barely seen the light of day.

Norman Power

Norm Power has been a thing all season, but Powell has been no more important than this past week, and he’s delivered in spades. I’m absolutely gobsmacked to consider Powell a ‘calming force’ in relation to the Raptors offense, but since starting in place of an injured VanVleet, Powell has averaged 24 points on 49 percent from the field. Daniel Reynolds outlined his magnificent play and the utter disbelief surrounding his sea change here, but it needs to be restated time and again!

Powell is now one of the Raptors’ best players — hands down. You know what you’re getting from him, you no longer have to worry about his decision making, or his shot taking, and he’s become a veteran wing player whose contract now looks to be an extreme under-pay. Everyone in Toronto is eating their words from 2017. We never expected this growth, and by god should we be happy to see it. Let’s see what it brings tonight in Golden State.