The Toronto Raptors are back on the road tonight for the first night of a back to back against the Orlando Magic, which also serves as their second NBA Cup game. The team is coming off a fantastic well-rounded win against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday afternoon, and hopes are high to continue that streak against the Magic as well. They’ll also need a win to keep their NBA Cup hopes alive.
This also marks the first time this season that Scottie Barnes will be returning to his home state of Florida — and while he definitely doesn’t need any motivation to perform the way he has been, maybe he’ll put on a show for his friends and family.
On the Orlando side, the Magic are 8-5 on their season and being led on most fronts by sophomore star Paolo Banchero. He has team highs in points, rebounds and assists, and is leading the charge on the continued improvement of this franchise. It’ll be a battle of the young kids tonight for sure as Barnes goes up against many old teammates and schoolmates.
Here’s how to watch:
TV Schedule: 7:00pm ET, Sportsnet
Toronto: Dennis Schroder, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby, Jakob Poeltl
Orlando: Paolo Banchero, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Goga Bitadze, Anthony Black
Toronto: Thad Young (Illness, OUT), Christian Koloko (respiratory, OUT)
Orlando: Wendell Carter Jr. (finger, OUT), Markelle Fultz (knee, OUT)
So, how can the Raptors put themselves in the best position to win?
It probably goes without saying that O.G. Anunoby will be assigned to defend Paolo Banchero. The young star is averaging 18.7 points per game (PPG), 6.8 rebounds per game (RPG), and 4.5 assist per game (APG). Someone big and strong like Anunoby will surely disrupt him — if O.G. is shutting down Giannis surely Banchero is doable as well.
Banchero has also had a significant jump in three point shooting percentage this year, so the Raptors will have to step up their perimeter defence to keep him quiet as well. The Magic don’t necessarily have a huge threat in the front court as well, which will work well for the Raptors, who sometimes struggle with rim protection.
Be Great 4
Scottie Barnes grew up with a lot of the Jalen Suggs’ and Paolo Bancheros’ of the NBA — yet Scottie is bigger, stronger, and overall just more polished than a lot of his schoolmates early in their careers. So far this season, he is averaging 20.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 6.0 APG — and so much of his growth isn’t even represented on the stat sheet. He’s become a stronger defender, an excellent facilitator, and his shooting has drastically improved from where it started.
Scottie was lucky to be drafted into a franchise as the no.4 pick that wasn’t in an overall rebuild — he’s played with elite All-Stars, while still having the responsibility of starting on this team. Now, this could have been a drastically different match up. Toronto could be rolling into Orlando worried about having to DEFEND Scottie Barnes, who very easily could have been drafted there no.5 the year the Raptors got him. Luckily, he’s our guy.
Even just an average night from Scottie based on his current stats would be fantastic in beating the Magic tonight.
One of the highlights of Sunday’s win against the Pistons was how much of a team effort it was. Seven players scored in double digits, and the team broke a franchise record for assists in a single gave with 44 on the night. That team effort is truly something that has been missing from this team.
It’s not “this player is the only star on this team,” — every great team as MULTIPLE of those guys who perform great night after night. There’s not a team in the NBA that succeeds when it comes from an approach of taking turns having good nights. The Raptors need to focus on making the best shots, moving the ball, and continuing to play as a unit.