It almost feels like a dress rehearsal — the last Toronto Raptors preseason game before the regular season starts. After a few weeks on the road, one game in Toronto, and a mediocre 2-2 so far, the Raptors have come to their last “nothing really matters” game before things... matter.
It also marks the end of the team’s trip across Canada, where they stopped in Victoria, BC, Edmonton, Alberta, and now in Montreal, Quebec in an attempt to give fans across Canada the chance to see the team play in person.
The Raptors held their own into overtime against the Boston Celtics last week, and now they will close out the preseason with a rematch.
Since it is the last preseason game, the Celtics may opt to play a few of their stars significantly less than usual. They may also be looking to make roster decisions over the weekend, and so those players competing for spots will be given more minutes to have one last chance to show off their stuff.
The Raptors are certainly in that position. A number of cuts will have to be made to ensure the roster cut down enough before the regular season starts. A few of the non-guaranteed players have really showed they want those spots, and it’ll be a hard decision no matter what happens in Montreal tonight.
You can catch the final preseason game on TSN tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST
NBA Canada Series
The NBA Canada series brought Raptors basketball across Canada and the results have been excellent. Tonight’s game at the Bell Centre in Montreal is already sold out, as was the game in Edmonton. Tickets started as low as $20 in hopes it would bring more fans out.
The game will host four Canadian players — Khem Birch, Chris Boucher (OUT - injury) and Dalano Banton on the Raptors, as well as Mfiondu Kabengele from the Celtics.
This will be the sixth NBA game played in Montreal since 2012, a city that has a growing basketball community and has produced some impressive talent over the past few years. Four players from Quebec are currently on NBA Rosters: Khem Birch, Chris Boucher, Luguentz Dort (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Bennedict Mathurin (Indiana Pacers).
Mathurin was drafted sixth overall in the 2022 NBA draft and was one of four Canadians drafted this year.
It’s obvious Montreal is becoming a basketball city, and hopefully bringing NBA games there will help get more attention to that.
The Raptors have some decisions to make on all fronts. First is deciding who of the non-guaranteed players will get the final roster spots.
Of course, Nick Nurse will want to win this game against Boston, but expect him to go deep into the bench again to see some of those players get a few more minutes before cuts are made.
Another lineup needing to be finalized is the starting lineup. Some questions have been circulating about how the Raptors starting lineup should be made up. Should Coach Nurse go big by starting Precious Achiuwa, or stay small and keep Gary Trent Jr. with the starters?
Nurse had mentioned that Trent Jr has earned a spot in the starting lineup, so expect that to be the choice for the foreseeable future. There’s also no denying Trent Jr. likes hearing his name called, and if that benefits him and the team it seems like a great choice. Yet, he would also be a great scoring leader for the bench players.
Unfortunately, the injury list didn’t stay clear very long. As it stands, three players are listed with “day-to-day injuries” on the report.
Chris Boucher will unfortunately be unable to play in his hometown game in Montreal with a hamstring injury, and Otto Porter Jr. is also out with the same injury. They are both expected to play in the season-opener on October 19.
Malachi Flynn underwent surgery last week after suffering an injury to the face. He is expected to start full practices next week and return to play in the next few weeks.
After an injury-ridden season last year, lets hope this upcoming season is a little better.
Get one last look at the Raptors roster before the regular season kicks off by watching the last preseason game Friday Night at 7:30 p.m. EST on TSN.