It was almost a month ago when I wrote the preview for the first match up this season and things have both changed and stayed the same. The Golden State Warriors, who got to an absolutely blistering start, going 18-2 in their first twenty games, have slowed down a just a tad. They are 5-3 since, which could be expected considering a team has never finished the season with a 90%-win rate. Stephen Curry has also slowed down, but not enough to ever think he’s not capable of exploding for 50 on any given game. It seems like what they need is some rest – and it might be something Steve Kerr and company may be considering for this game.
Draymond Green hinted at an expected rest night in Toronto on Saturday for the veterans. Steve Kerr said no official decision has been made, but seems like Warriors are leaning toward sitting Curry/Draymond/maybe others against Raptors.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 16, 2021
The Toronto Raptors, on the other hand, should be fresh. With their December 16th matchup against Chicago postponed due to an overwhelming amount of players entering health and safety protocols for the Bulls, the Raptors have been sitting (and practicing) since their 129-131 loss in Brooklyn on Tuesday. In the NBA, that is a lot of time in between games. News of OG Anunoby and Khem Birch practicing has brought a little hope of a return for the matchups against Golden State tonight and Orlando on Monday. Sitting just 2 games under .500, Toronto is one step closer to having a full roster available for the first time this season. Here are the details for tonight’s contest.
Where to Watch:
TSN, 7:30PM EST
Toronto – Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Chris Boucher
We’re just guessing here:
Golden State – Gary Payton Jr., Damion Lee, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Nemanja Bjelica, Kevon Looney
Toronto — Khem Birch (knee – out), Precious Achiuwa, Pascal Siakam (health & safety protocols – out), Goran Dragic (Not with team — OUT)
Golden State – Klay Thompson (achilles – OUT), James Wiseman (knee – OUT), Jordan Poole (health & safety protocols – OUT), Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala & Andrew Wiggins (Rest — OUT), Otto Porter Jr., Andre Iguodala (Injury Management — OUT)
Two steps forward, one step back
After some nice wins against Milwaukee and Washington, Toronto suffered a disappointing loss in a winnable game against the Thunder. Again, another two wins against the faltering Knicks and Kings, only to fall to an extremely shorthanded Brooklyn Nets squad. It seems like whenever the Raptors have an opportunity to put together a couple of good wins in a row, they seem to take a step back.
In the four wins, Toronto allowed an average of 93 PTS/G. In the two losses, they allowed an average of 120.5 PTS/G. It’s pretty black and white – whenever they allow less than 100, they have a good chance of winning. Anything above and it’s a crapshoot. One of the downfalls of a youthful team is the inconsistency. Tonight is another chance, if Golden State does choose to sit Curry and Green, a chance they must take.
Appreciate the Greatness
Stephen Curry’s monumental achievement on Tuesday in Madison Square Garden is one of those moments. It’s not often one gets to see history like that being made in a league with hundreds of greats. It’s a record that may never be broken, considering it took him approximately 600 less games to pass Ray Allen. If he can continue at this pace that is.
"STEPHEN CURRY...THE ALL-TIME THREE-POINT KING IN THE NBA."— NBA (@NBA) December 15, 2021
The Nick Nurse Era Raptors don’t let stars get going. In their first match-up, Curry was held to a season low 12 points (didn’t matter as Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole both finished with over 30 points). If Curry does play tonight, expect more of the same. He may have just set a new NBA record, but Nurse wont let him add on to it.
Should We Even Be Playing?
It’s no surprise several teams have been hit by the most recent wave of COVID-19. The Raptors have been relatively unscathed (knock on wood) despite their most recent games all having someone in protocols. Following their win against the Knicks, both RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin entered protocols. The Kings, who the Raptors played just under a week ago, are currently dealing with an outbreak of their own. The most recent matchup on Tuesday in Brooklyn saw the Nets play with just 8 players, 4 of them rookies.
Single-day highs for NBA players entering into H&S protocols this season:— Baxter Holmes (@Baxter) December 17, 2021
Today: 10 (so far)
The previous high before Tuesday was five, which was 12/11 (last Saturday).
With the most anticipated matchups of the season being played in a week’s time, what’s the course of action? It’s clear that the NBA will want to go forward with the games, bringing back strict testing and game day procedures to help curb more outbreaks within teams and the league. There is a chance we see the Lakers and Nets play with neither team having their big 3 available due to health and safety protocols. All we can hope for is that the NBA can get this under control.