The Toronto Raptors may be in California... but things aren’t so sunny for them right now. They’ll face off against the Los Angeles Lakers tonight in hopes of avoiding their third loss in a row. They lost Wednesday against the LA Clippers, and Monday against the Denver Nuggets — both games (partially) decided by less-than-ideal calls from the referees late down the stretch.
On top of that, the team and Fred VanVleet made national headlines after VanVleet used his post-game press conference on Wednesday to openly criticize the officiating not only against the Raptors but personally against himself. In a speech filled with profanities and direct accusations that NBA Official Ben Taylor has been targeting him specifically, Fred made it clear he is not happy with the way games have been called this season.
...and not to be too biased but he was onto something, not gonna lie.
Fred VanVleet went OFF on referee Ben Taylor and NBA reffing in general in his post-game after the Raptors loss. Haven't heard anything like this. pic.twitter.com/VcMkGTh0k3— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) March 9, 2023
Such is life in the NBA, Fred got fined $30,000 for this — which sounds like big money to you and me, but he’ll be okay. More annoying that that, the league called his comments “unfortunate” in the release detailing his fine — like the only thing unfortunate about all of this is how the Raptors could have been above .500 with those two wins, but I digress.
Now, we look forward to the next game, as the Raptors take on the Lakers. Excuse my cheekiness here — but we are justified to be angry if the Raptors lose this one. LeBron? Out. Anthony Davis? Probable but coming back from foot injury. Russell Westbrook? Played him already this week, he’s a Clipper now, remember?
The Raptors on the other hand, seem to be at full strength according to current injury reports. It would be GREAT to finish off the work-week with a Raptors win.
Match up: Toronto Raptors (32-35) vs Los Angeles Lakers (32-34)
Where to watch: TSN, 10:30 p.m. EST
Something Fred touched on in this viral video that is getting missed is the fact that, on top of the refs doing better, the TEAM also could do better. They need to play through the... you-know-what and get the job done. This game against the Lakers is a great opportunity for that — they are undermanned, missing their best player, and aren’t doing too well overall this season anyway.
If even just a couple of the Raptors can go off and have themselves a night in LA, PLUS the team plays strong defence, they can easily take this one.
Now that the team is healthy, Gary Trent Jr. has been assigned to the bench. In the Clippers game, him and Chris Boucher were the only Raptors to get on the board. Gary does a phenomenal job of leading the bench unit, but the other guys (who get minutes) need to make an impact too.
Now, to be fair, the only bench players to get minutes last game were Trent Jr., Boucher, Achiuwa and Young... but Will Barton is set to (most likely) be available to play tonight. Malachi Flynn is also available to potentially make an appearance. I’m no NBA coach but after this week, maybe Nick Nurse will be willing to try out some different lineups tonight.
I’m gonna pull a Marcus Smart in this one and defer to Fred VanVleet for this one — but let’s just say the lives of the Raptors will be made easier tonight if our pals in the stripe-y shirts don’t have it out for them... end of comment.
The Toronto Raptors will play the Los Angeles Lakers tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET on TSN.