As Toronto Raptors fans, we’ve grown used to counting down the final days of the regular season to get us to those games that really matter: The postseason.
Now, though, we’re counting down because we really just want this hellish season to end. The Raptors played last night against the Bulls, which was noteworthy if only because of a random awesome night from Stanley Johnson. Tonight, we’ll see who can stand out. While it’s a bit of a sucker’s bet to try and predict Toronto’s rotation, it’s clear coach Nick Nurse is content to give the team’s younger, more inexperienced players a chance to shine. It’s not the playoffs, of course, but it is... something.
Regardless, we’ll be one step closer to the end after the Raptors visit the Dallas Mavericks tonight. Here are the details so far.
Where to Watch:
TSN, 9:00 p.m. EST
Toronto — Malachi Flynn, Jalen Harris, Gary Trent Jr., Stanley Johnson, Khem Birch
Dallas — Dorian Finney-Smith, Kristaps Porzingis, Dwight Powell, Tim Hardaway Jr., Luka Dončić
Toronto — Kyle Lowry (rest – OUT), Fred VanVleet (hip – OUT), Pascal Siakam (shoulder – OUT), OG Anunoby (calf – OUT), Chris Boucher (knee – questionable), Paul Watson (knee – OUT), Rodney Hood (hand – OUT), Yuta Watanabe (ankle – questionable)
Dallas — JJ Redick (right heel – OUT)
Give Us Kyle Lowry One More Time
Has Kyle Lowry played his last game as a Raptor? It seems likely. And it was a great one, too, his dominant performance in a win over the Lakers.
But if there’s any hope for one last Kyle Lowry appearance — other than the possibility that he re-signs this summer, which of course may well happen — it’s that the Raptors have nothing left to play for. They’re locked into the seventh-worst record; they can’t improve their lottery odds any more.
So I would imagine, if Kyle wants to play, he’ll play. Kyle, if you can hear me: Please suit up one more time, either tonight or Sunday!
(Or just re-sign in the summer. I’d much prefer that, to be honest!)
Do It Again?
The last time these two teams played, it was one of Toronto’s best performances of the season, a win that came during a 10-5 stretch in which there was plenty of time for the Raptors to turn their disastrous start around.
This time out, a win would be a nice notch in the belts of the young Raptors. It’s funny to think about all the young players, including now-mainstays Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, who came to Toronto and experienced nothing but winning after years and years of young guys coming here and racking up losses.
Malachi Flynn, Jalen Harris, Freddie Gillespie and Yuta Watanabe are experiencing the latter sensation. And that stinks for them. I would love to see them wrap up the second-last game of the season with a big win against a quality Western Conference playoff team.
Contain Luka (Thanks, Captain Obvious)
It goes without saying, but for the Young Raps to get that big win, they’ll have to do a job on Luka Dončić. Without OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam, that’s a tall ask.
Dončić is averaging 28.8 points, 8 rebounds and 8.6 assists, and despite shooting a mere 35% from downtown, has made a habit of ripping teams’ hearts out with timely long-range daggers.
And hey, the Mavs still have a lot to play for! They’re currently a half-game up on the Trail Blazers for the fifth seed, and just one game up on the Lakers; staying out of 7th, of course, means avoiding the play-in game. Win out, and the Mavs do just that.
So expect a big game from Luka tonight. Stanley Johnson, it’s another chance to show your worth!