The Toronto Raptors have looked ready to turn the corner at multiple points this season. After a 2-8 start, they found their footing and worked back to .500. After an injury to Kyle Lowry, the rest of the roster turned in some passionate performances and helped climb the standings again. The last two weeks, though, have been enough for Raptors fans to question everything.
Fair or not, the pandemic has battered any expectations Toronto had of making a spring push into the class of the East. The All-Star break wasn’t enough to bring back three players from health and safety protocols, as all of Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam will be out again in Chicago tonight — they may not return until late this week, or after.
Anunoby, Flynn, McCaw, Siakam, VanVleet (health and safety protocols) still out for Raptors tonight, as expected.— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) March 14, 2021
Nick Nurse says some of the 5 players who are out have progressed to 1-on-0 workouts. Thinks they'll have them all back "in some capacity" later in the week. Says clearances are staggered right now and hurdles to clear.— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) March 14, 2021
Losers of four straight and at 17-21 overall, the looming trade deadline has plenty of experts asking whether the Raptors should keep waiting for luck to turn their way — for a healthy push to happen soon — or become deadline sellers and start punting on 2020-21.
Losses would keep pushing the conversation to the latter, but the Raptors may be in luck tonight. The 16-20 Chicago Bulls are similarly reeling, losing four of their last five games. Tonight, in an attempt to pull the team together, Bulls coach Billy Donovan is changing his starting lineup. According to reporting from The Athletic, veterans Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young will start against the Raptors, replacing Coby White and Wendell Carter Jr. Benching two of the Bulls’ young developing players is a big move, but may be necessary with Chicago’s regular starters posting a putrid -17.6 net rating.
In any case, this could be a potential preview of the Eastern Conference play-in round, and how the Raptors — albeit skeleton crew — can handle Zach LaVine, who’s averaging 28.5 points per game coming in, will be an interesting watch.
For more, check out Dylan Litman’s preview from this morning. Here are the game details.
Where to Watch
TSN, 9 PM ET
Toronto — Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, Terence Davis, Stanley Johnson, Aron Baynes
Chicago — Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Thaddeus Young, Patrick Williams, Lauri Markannen
Toronto — Pascal Siakam (out - health and safety protocols), Fred VanVleet (out - health and safety protocols), OG Anunoby (out - health and safety protocols), Patrick McCaw (out - health and safety protocols), Malachi Flynn (out - health and safety protocols)
Chicago — Devon Dotson (out - knee), Garrett Temple (out - ankle)