The good news for tonight’s game is Fred VanVleet appears to be a game-time decision. The bad news? It’s only game two of a six-game road trip.
Fred has been sidelined since February 28th’s contest against Brooklyn, and Toronto has missed his offensive firepower in the last three especially, losing to two of the league’s worst teams, and failing to complete a very winnable comeback against the Cavaliers.
In his stead, Scottie Barnes has looked reinvigorated, refreshed and undoubtedly the second best player on the team who is currently playing, averaging over seven games close to 19 points to go with nine rebounds, 1.7 steals, plus 3 assists and 60 percent from the floor. The rookie continues to grow before our eyes as he’s now acting as the team’s secondary scoring option — and primary post scorer — on the floor.
Here are tonight’s details for the game:
Where to Watch:
TSN, 8:30 p.m.
Toronto — Gary Trent, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher, Khem Birch
San Antonio — Dejounte Murray, Josh Richardson, Keldon Johnson, Doug McDermott, Jakob Poeltl
Toronto — Fred VanVleet (Game Time Decision), Malachi Flynn (hamstring — OUT), OG Anunoby (finger — OUT)
San Antonio — Keita Bates-Diop, Lonnie Walker, Devin Vassel (day-to-day)
Keys to Win
San Antonio currently sports an average offense which has been operating with few turnovers, and a top five shooting percentage in the league. Translation: they make a lot of baskets (no. 1 in the league) and don’t waste possessions. Their achilles heel then, and why they don’t have a better record, is their bottom five 3-point shooting ability. Their primary point of attack is Dejounte Murray, the Spurs fifth year All-Star guard who is doing literally everything he can on the floor outside of drill triples. Then there is Keldon Johnson, a strong cutting option and one of the few legitimate three point threats on the team, alongside Doug McDermott.
If Toronto can isolate this trio from playing a three-man game — by limiting Murray’s ability to find either corner shooter — then the current Raptors line of -1.5 according to DraftKings Sportsbook could be closer than the game will be. Failing to cut out that point of attack will lead to easy buckets, which have been the Raptors’ own achilles heel this season. If one of those tertiary options gets hot, this game could sway in favor of San Antonio, and Popovich’s all-time wins record.
Fred VanVleet a GTD
VanVleet was Toronto’s sole All-Star this season, so his time on the floor is imperative. Let me tell you something you didn’t know (or maybe you did): No Raptor player in the team’s history has averaged 20-8-5 (pts-reb-ast) over the course of the season. Pascal Siakam is on track to be that guy.
Back to VanVleet:
Encouraging news as Fred VanVleet took part in full practice today— Kayla Grey (@Kayla_Grey) March 8, 2022
With Flynn sidelined, the pressure to return to the floor is higher than ever for Fred, and we generally don’t want high pressure situations in mid-March. Let’s hope he’s back in game shape and fully recovered.
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