The Toronto Raptors swing back home tonight to take on a familiar face in DeMar DeRozan (at least we think, in preseason, we never actually know) and his Chicago Bulls.
As much as the preseason is about preparing for the real games, and battling out the final roster spots, getting a win as a fan still brings that extra jolt of joy needed to fall asleep peacefully. Especially for those of us who double as Toronto Blue Jays fans, that one hurt deeply.
A win tonight would be nice, however I would continue to focus on what really matters, because if the trend continues this game, Toronto will be sitting some more of their established guys.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet, 6:00PM EST
Toronto — Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes
Chicago — Ayo Dosunmu, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams, Nikola Vucevic
Toronto — Otto Porter Jr. (hamstring – out), Justin Champagnie (hip – out), Malachi Flynn (cheekbone – out)
Chicago — Lonzo Ball (knee – out), Justin Lewis (ACL - out)
Keep an eye on Dalano Banton
There’s this thing that fans love to do, and it’s overreact to the summer league, and preseason. If it’s your own team, you jump on every chance to excessively praise someone, but brush off any sort of bad play as “just preseason.”
However, when it’s a rival, or a star around the league, they better bring their A-Game every night, or the Twitter Warriors are coming for their neck.
Dalano Banton seems to be a product of the former, but I wouldn’t try to write this off as meaningless production. Him and Malachi Flynn seemed to be in a real battle heading into this season for the backup point guard role, and Banton’s play mixed with Flynn’s unfortunate injury could lean heavily in Banton’s favour to start the season. If he continues to play the way he has, Banton may not have only secured a roster spot, but a rotation spot as well.
Rest the starters
The reason that basketball preseason is actually bearable compared to the likes of the NFL, is the big guys actually get some burn! We’re also realizing in the NFL, that the teams who give their starters no reps in the preseason, come out of the gate really slow.
However, as we approach the week before the regular season, I would expect Coach Nick Nurse to ease up on the starters’ playing time. We already saw Fred VanVleet sit out last game, and I would expect another one or two of the starting five to get some rest at home tonight.
Such a Precious game
Everyone’s favourite player hits the floor again tonight, and no, I am not talking about Scottie Barnes or Pascal Siakam. I am referring to the man who has taken Raptors Twitter by storm this preseason, Precious Achiuwa.
The Achiuwa love started when he put up some extremely impressive moments in the playoffs against one of the league’s best, Joel Embiid. Achiuwa has yet to slow down his ascent, and looks like he’s taken another step towards stardom.
I’m not sure if the fifth starter battle between him and Gary Trent Jr. is actually a thing within the Raptors organization, but if it is, Achiuwa is making a good case for it, and will attempt to continue his display tonight.