Without Kyle Lowry on Friday night against the Heat — coming off a rough loss with Lowry on Wednesday — the Raptors put together a 20-point victory. As has been pointed out before, this version of the team, one shaped by Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby could very well be the Raptors we get in, say, eight months, e.g. it’s depressingly not hard to imagine Lowry departing at the end of this season for one last shine in the sun elsewhere while Toronto continues to re-tool around other players. These are the breaks of the game — and the league.
And that’s the situation today, as just about an hour ago, with today’s game bumped up to a 1pm tip-off, the Raptors announced that Lowry would not suit up for the second straight game. In truth, his affliction — a toe infection — sounds both serious (I mean, yuck) and not serious (it’ll heal in time, presumably). What Lowry’s absence means in the short-term though is that it once again affords us a glance to that larger future hurtling towards the Raptors faster than we’d care to admit. Toronto is now 6-9 on the year and while they’ve improved over the broader arc of the season, they’re still not quite good. Our memories of last year, with Lowry putting on a motivational and organizational masterclass (with some fellow veteran help, it’s true), colour our expectations. And without him, we can only look to those aforementioned younger players with questions in our eyes.
Yes, this is a lot to take in — and what’s more, we’ve buried the lede: Siakam will also sit out this afternoon with left knee swelling. It’s all too much to consider for the rare Sunday afternoon road game from the first quarter of an NBA regular season. In the smaller picture, we should reflect on Raptors head coach Nick Nurse taking on his former protege Nate Bjorkgren, the new Pacers head coach, for the first time on the NBA stage. Or we should be wondering about which version of Norman Powell we’ll see today, the world-beating starter or the confused bench player. And speaking of which, what of Toronto’s tumultuous frontcourt and bench rotation — both stretched even thinner now — shouldn’t we worry about them all today too? (We could even discuss the Pacers’ missing players, with both T.J. Warren and the newly acquired Caris LeVert, whose absense strikes as a particularly cruel blow, out as well.)
In a word: yes. These are all things to consider as the Raptors gear up for this afternoon’s showdown with the Pacers. And I suspect we’ll go through it all again on Monday when these two teams play again in Indiana. The future is coming, but it’s not here yet. For now, read Satbir’s preview from this morning and get your updated game details below.
Then, what else? Let’s watch.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet One, 1pm EST
Toronto – Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Stanley Johnson, Aron Baynes
Indiana – Malcolm Brogdon, Justin Holiday, Doug McDermott, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner
Toronto – Kyle Lowry (toe – out), Pascal Siakam (knee – out), Patrick McCaw (knee – out)
Indiana – Caris LeVert (kidney – out), T.J. Warren (foot – out), JaKarr Sampson (ill – probable)