Despite enormous spikes in COVID-19 cases in Florida over the course of July, the NBA’s bubble restart at Disney World is a go — for now. There are those with reservations, including players, who won’t be joining their respective 22 teams in Orlando, but the Raptors are full steam ahead in their attempt to defend the NBA title.
Through two games, it looks as though the guys on Toronto haven’t missed much. Team chemistry has still looked high as ever, and a newly “chiseled” Marc Gasol could boost Toronto’s chances of a deep (September!) playoff run even more.
Eyes were on Fred VanVleet after he sat the remainder of the game after banging his knee attempting to take a charge, but afterward said he was fine. He’s expected to play this afternoon.
Fred VanVleet said his knee is fine after banging it early in yesterday's scrimmage. He sat out the rest of the game as a precaution.— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) July 27, 2020
Here are the details for this afternoon’s game and some things to keep an eye on.
Where to Watch:
TSN at 3:00 p.m. EST
Toronto — Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol
Phoenix — Ricky Rubio, Devin Booker, Miles Bridges, Dario Saric, DeAndre Ayton
Toronto — Patrick McCaw (injury — questionable)
Phoenix — Kelly Oubre Jr. (knee — out), Aron Baynes (COVID-19/quarantine — out), Elie Okobo (quarantine — out)
Gasol: Big Hair, Skinny Body
Marc Gasol made his debut against Portland on Sunday and, jeez, you could see the difference that his weight loss made. He was lightning quick (for a 7-footer) closing out on shooters, making rotations and even driving the ball to the paint before making one of his signature passes to the perimeter.
It’s a beautiful change of pace after Gasol looked completely gassed in the few games he did manage to play before being “hamstrung” for nearly the entire regular season. (To be fair, after making a title run, and then winning Gold with the Spanish National Team, he was due to be extremely worn out.) If Toronto has an agile Serge Ibaka/Gasol rotation at centre, they’re a dangerous team who can match up with anybody. Check how they deal with Ayton today as proof.
Also on display Sunday was OG Anunoby’s handling ability. The third year forward — sporting a headband — darted around the court with the ball in his hands and looked completely comfortable doing so. Additionally, he too made his signature plays, which included a back-door alley-oop from point god Kyle Lowry.
This is another asset the Raptors will look to employ during the restart and subsequent title run. The more big, agile players a team has, the stronger they’ll fair against the rest of the league in the playoffs. Having size is only an issue if that size is combined with lack of movement. Toronto does not appear to have that problem right now.
Terence Davis is Not A Rookie
Terence Davis will have everyone in the NBA know that despite his rookie “tag,” he in fact is not a rookie at heart. After a strong showing (despite bad shooting) against the strong backcourt of the Rockets, Davis played solid ball and helped sustain the winning lead against the Blazers Sunday.
If there’s a single player which I’m most excited to see in the playoffs, it’s Davis. His big-game style that mimics the gumption of star players at times and his ability to find a way to be useful even on a night when his shot isn’t falling are both huge assets to have in the rotation come playoff time.
Anyway, sit back and enjoy the scrimmage show. The Raptors restart officially begins August 1st — this upcoming Saturday — against the Lakers. Get your game faces on!