Coming off of a 114-82 victory over the Utah Jazz in front of a raucous Edmonton crowd(!), the Toronto Raptors travel to Beantown to take on the Boston Celtics today, who similarly took care of the Charlotte Hornets 134-93 on Sunday.
Despite Robert Williams’ absence and the messy Ime Udoka situation, the Celtics are a deep team coming off an NBA Finals appearance. If you made it through a game featuring the Lauri Markkanen-led, Victor Wembanyama-inspired Jazz, you’ll have no trouble watching the Celtics, even at preseason pace. (I am currently fasting for Yom Kippur, but watching the 2022-23 Jazz might be an even greater act of repentance.)
As for the Raptors – it’s preseason basketball, folks. You know the rules: bad things don’t matter and good things are 1000% real. I don’t make the rules, I just blog ‘em.
Where to Watch:
TSN, 7:30 PM EST
Toronto – Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes
Boston – Marcus Smart, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford
Toronto – Otto Porter Jr. (hamstring – questionable), Khem Birch (knee surgery recovery – day-to-day), Justin Champagnie (thumb – questionable)
Boston – Robert Williams (knee – out), Danilo Gallinari (knee – out), Luke Kornet (ankle – questionable)
The roster battle
The Raptors have thirteen guaranteed contracts on the books for this season, meaning they can only keep two more players between the five of Dalano Banton (the safest bet for one of the spots), Justin Champagnie, D.J. Wilson, Josh Jackson, and Gabe Brown. For entrenched starters, the preseason is a time for ramp-up and rust-shedding. But for the aforementioned bunch, the stakes are incredibly high.
Aside from Rexdale-native Banton, Champagnie may have the inside track considering he played 36 games for the team last year. But he’s been out since July with a fractured thumb, meaning Wilson, Jackson, or Brown could leapfrog him with big preseason performances. I personally love what Champagnie brings to the table as a wildly good under-sized rebounder and generally active player, but each of these players shows flashes of NBA quality traits. Let’s see how things play out tonight.
Is it... Malachi Time?
Last year in my season preview I predicted that Malachi Flynn would become the Raptors’ everyday backup point guard. I was very wrong — but depending on how things go, it’s possible I was just early. Nick Nurse has brought up Flynn’s strong performance in training camp, and the 24-year-old point guard scored eight points in a solid 17 minutes versus the Jazz.
A steady backup point guard would be a tremendous boon for the Raptors, as it would alleviate some of VanVleet’s workload. Call me a RAPTOR NATION Kool-Aid drinker, but I am a believer in Malachi Flynn possessing the competence and fluidity to back up VanVleet on a regular basis. Look for Flynn to show improvements in his assertiveness with the ball, his strength (particularly navigating screens), and his ability to knock down shots. This is his third season, so if he’s going to become a rotation player the time is now — and if it doesn’t pan out, it is possible I am accidentally, but repeatedly, jinxing Malachi Flynn.
Need I say more?