I spent the last week or so getting away from my computer and social media, and, as much as possible, from the Toronto Raptors. I needed a break! The angst surrounding the team after their December losing skid and Fred VanVleet’s prolonged slump had completely worn me down. Even after my vacation to Antigua was canceled (thanks Westjet!) I decided to become a hermit and stay away from... well, everything.
I guess not much has changed, though?
While I was enjoying watching old movies from my couch, the Raptors closed out 2023 by dropping two seemingly listless games against strong opponents (the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies) and squeaking out a win against a depleted Phoenix Suns team. Not exactly the upward trend you want when your first four games of January are against plus-.500 opponents, starting tonight against the Indiana Pacers. It’s not what you want!
But because I didn’t watch those games, I’m going to head into 2023 remembering the last two games I did watch, with Pascal Siakam dismantling the New York Knicks and the team shutting down Donovan Mitchell and taking care of the Cleveland Cavaliers. That team is still in there, right? The one where the team scraps and fights right until the end, where the defense can take away what the opponent wants to do? God, I sure hope so!
Lineup-wise, there’s good news to start the year, as Fred VanVleet is set to return from the sore back that's kept him out of the past few games. Furthermore — absent since an ankle injury in November — Precious Achiuwa is back! While he’ll surely be limited in minutes and conditioning, the Raptors are one step closer to being back to full strength.
There’s nothing better for a fresh start than a brand new year. Let’s hope that’s exactly what the Raptors have in store for us tonight!
Where to watch:
Sportsnet, 7:00 pm ET
Toronto Raptors — O.G. Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent Jr.
Indiana Pacers — Buddy Hield, Aaron Nesmith, Myles Turner, Aaron Nemhard, Tyrese Haliburton
Toronto Raptors — Otto Porter Jr. (foot – out)
Indiana Pacers — Kendall Brown (leg – out), Daniel Theis (knee – out)