It’s good to be back home at the Air Canada Centre. I haven’t been here since Game 6 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, when the Toronto Raptors were still competing, because last year was the best. And sure, tonight is only a preseason game against San Lorenzo de Almagro, and sure, I’ll be watching the Blue Jays and Indians in Game 1 of the ALCS once 8 p.m. hits, but it’s good to be home. It’s basically like when I go home to visit family now – I throw a load of laundry in, say hi to everyone, and then go do something else, but it’s home.
I kid. Every game has information, and it’ll be nice to be physically around the team on a game night for the first time this preseason. That the opponent is an international champion only adds to the intrigue, and I’d wonder if the city’s focus on the Jays may make for somewhat of a split crowd (Toronto has about 6,000 Argentines, per some source I saw from 2014 a couple days ago).
The game tips off at 7 p.m and airs on NBA TV Canada.
Champs happy to visit
The Raptors aren’t exactly trotting out a full squad for this one, but their visiting opponent is excited about the opportunity nonetheless.
“We are excited to play this NBA game in this Global Games,” head coach Julio Lamas said before the game. “Toronto is a great team, they played the final with Cleveland, of the East. We see many games in Argentina because Luis Scola played. It’s a big motivation and an important chance to learn.”
Lamas, who also coaches the Argentine national team and saw DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry up close at the Olympics, had plenty of good things to say about the Raptors’ stars, too.
“They are big talents in the NBA,” he said. “They are great with one-on-one situations. They are leading the team to be one of the best five, six teams inside the NBA…We don’t know the ceiling of these two players. They are going up.”
Terrence Ross sat out Thursday with a sore knee, and Jared Sullinger missed a third straight due to foot soreness. Both are out again Friday, as are Lowry, DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Jonas Valanciunas, Cory Joseph, and Patrick Patterson. Sullinger’s injury still isn’t considered a concern, but the longer it extends, the easier it is to talk yourself out of the typical preseason optimism. If he doesn’t suit up Wednesday, then there’s probably going to be a bigger discussion about Sullinger’s status.
The team is opting to rest all of their regular rotation players in order to get an extended look at the young players on the team. Head coach Dwane Casey specifically mentioned the competition for backup center minutes between Lucas Nogueira and Jakob Poeltl. And yes, I asked about getting an extended look at players who haven’t played yet (like Jarrod Uthoff), but Casey spoke only in general terms. Still, it stands to reason every commenter’s favorite will get some run tonight.
“It’s gonna be an opportunity for the young guys to compete and play. Get a great look at them,” Casey said. “It’s huge. I think tonight is a great audition.”
So here’s your rotation for the night, roughly:
PG: Fred VanVleet, Brady Heslip
SG: Norman Powell, E.J. Singler
SF: Drew Crawford, Bruno Caboclo, E.J. Singler
PF: Pascal Siakam, Jarrod Uthoff
C: Lucas Nogueira, Jakob Poeltl, Yanick Moreira
For reference, here’s how the minutes have shaken out so far:
Known commodities: Patterson 75 (18.8/game), Valanciunas 75 (18.8), Joseph 71 (17.8), Lowry 58 (19.3), DeRozan 55 (18.3), Carroll 52 (17.3)
Getting acclimated: Sullinger 23 (23)
Competition 1: Siakam 78 (19.5), Nogueira 58 (14.5), Poeltl 48 (12)
Competition 2: Powell 90 (22.5), Ross 50 (16.7)
Competition 3: Crawford 79 (19.8), VanVleet 62 (15.5), Heslip 21 (10.5), Singler 20 (6.7), Uthoff/Moreira 0
Other: Caboclo 44 (11), Wright 0
San Lorenzo de Almagra updates
I really don’t know what to expect here, but here’s how the minutes have broken down so far this season for the defending champions, who have opened their LigaA season 3-1:
|Jerome Meyinsse||United States||22.5||9.5||4.8||1.3|
|Guillermo Diaz||Puerto Rico||21.5||11.5||1.8||2.5|
Their starters are Aguirre, Diaz, Mata, Deck, and Meyinsse,
Here’s some additional color from the pre-game:
Diaz is a name that may stand out from his time with the Puerto Rican national team, as he played spot minutes in both the Tuto Marchand Cup and the FIBA Americas Championship last summer. He’s also had some Summer League and D-League reps, even getting a six-game regular season audition with the Clippers in 2007-08. Gabriel Deck and Selem Safar suited up for Argentina in that same FIBA Americas tournament, winning silver medals and punching their ticket to the Olympics in the process (only Deck made the actual Olympic roster, though).
Meyinsse is the lone American on the roster, and he’s played four NBA preseason games over the last two seasons with Flamengo, averaging 13.3 points and four rebounds. The Virginia product has never gotten an NBA look but has carved out what looks to be a nice career on the South Americans circuit over the last few years. He has three NBB (Brazil) championships, two All-Star appearances, a FIBA Intercontinental Cup, and a Finals MVP to his name.
Ross’ breakout 2016-17 includes a new dog, who is adorable.
Guys Terrence Ross’ breakout season includes an adorable new dog. It’s ALL happening. pic.twitter.com/Mozw0fYpRR
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) October 14, 2016
The game is off the board, which probably makes sense. Raptors by 13, SLDA gives a bench-heavy second-half squad a bit of a scare. And the Jays turn Corey Kluber to dust.