Although two wins last week gave fans a much-needed reprieve, the Toronto Raptors’ season is once again hanging over a cliff. Losses to the Grizzlies and Clippers can be expected, but the lack of effort shown on the defensive end is starting to sound major alarm bells.
Nick Nurse isn’t oblivious to it. After laying into his team’s collective effort at last night’s press conference, he just revealed details of a film session before tonight’s game where he got into the squad once again. Question the tactics if you want, but crisis alarms are clearly ringing in the Raptors’ locker room as they sit 15-20 and outside the playoffs as the season nears its halfway point.
Nurse said the Raptors just had a 20-minute film session, watching tape from last night’s game, and there was only 1 voice in the room: his.— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) December 30, 2022
“I’m probably not gonna err on the soft side. I’m going to show them the good, bad and the ugly. I’m not backing away from that stuff.”
Normally, the 2021 NBA finalists and reigning regular season champs aren’t the team you want to see when things go this sideways, but the Suns aren’t quite at their best. Devin Booker is out at least a month with a groin injury (we know about those all too well), while key rotation players Cam Johnson, Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet are also out in Toronto tonight.
The Raptors won’t be getting reinforcements, though. Fred VanVleet will continue to sit tonight with back soreness that flared back up after his last return from injury. The team was hopeful he would be ready to go tonight, and were even more ready for Precious Achiuwa to make his long-awaited return from an ankle injury. That too will have to wait for another day, as Achiuwa continues to be designated as out tonight.
So, can the Raptors bring the effort on the end of a back-to-back? Are team meetings and film sessions enough to overcome the flaws we’ve seen throughout December? It might never be a better time to see the purple and orange tonight. Here are the rest of the game details — let’s watch.
Where to Watch:
TSN, 7:30 PM ET
Toronto Raptors – Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., Pascal Siakam, Christian Koloko
Phoenix Suns – Chris Paul, Josh Okogie, Mikal Bridges, Torrey Craig, Deandre Ayton
Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet (back – out), Precious Achiuwa (ankle – out), Otto Porter Jr. (hip – out)
Phoenix Suns – Cameron Johnson (knee – out), Cameron Payne (foot – out), Landry Shamet (achilles – out), Devin Booker (groin – out), Jae Crowder (personal – out)