After missing two games with a non-COVID illness, Fred VanVleet returns to the Toronto Raptors lineup tonight as they host the Miami Heat — kicking off a murderers’ row in the schedule that goes all the way into early December.
After tonight, the Raptors take on the Hawks, Mavericks, Cavaliers, Pelicans and the resurgent Nets twice before finally getting a break from the playoff-tier teams when they face the Magic on December 3. Yikes.
Getting VanVleet back is great news given those circumstances. Another bright spot is the upcoming re-evaluation of Pascal Siakam’s groin injury, with the two-week mark coming up this weekend. The Raptors will still be without Gary Trent Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. tonight, as both are day-to-day with their respective injuries, but it’s good to have things to feel good about after a road trip where bodies were in short supply.
Of course, the major story tonight is another return to Scotiabank Arena for Kyle Lowry.
The undisputed GROAT has had nothing but kind things to say about Toronto in the days leading up to tonight’s game, taking to Instagram Stories to let his followers know when he landed north of the border and complimenting his former teammates in this morning’s press session. Sweet guy.
Kyle Lowry: “I watch a lot of (Raptors) games. My guys are still on this team. I support my guys - Freddy, OG, Pascal. I just like to watch how they’ve matured and become better individual basketball players and better men.”— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) November 16, 2022
Of course, we know the sweetness ends when Lowry takes the court — and even though the Heat may be more beat up than the Raptors, with Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro both out of the lineup, any team with Lowry and Jimmy Butler on it is going to be tough as nails.
The Raptors also have some bad blood with Heat starter Caleb Martin, who had his notable skirmish with Christian Koloko the last time these two teams met.
Fight or not, Raptors-Heat matchups never fail to disappoint. Even with nine players total on the injury report, we need to get strapped in for another beat-em-up, defensive battle between two teams who never take a play off.
Here are the game details.
Where to watch:
Sportsnet One, 7:30 PM ET
Toronto Raptors — Fred VanVleet, Dalano Banton, Thad Young, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby
Miami Heat — Kyle Lowry, Max Strus, Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin, Dewayne Dedmon
Toronto Raptors — Gary Trent Jr. (hip – out), Precious Achiuwa (ankle – out), Pascal Siakam (groin – out), Otto Porter Jr. (toe – out)
Miami Heat — Bam Adebayo (out – knee), Udonis Haslem (out – personal), Tyler Herro (out – ankle), Omer Yurtseven (ankle – out), Victor Oladipo (knee – out)