It’s finally (almost) over. Both the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards mercifully close out a much-too-long exhibition slate on Friday. After nearly a month of training camp, the Raptors need only to stay (or get) healthy in the final preseason contest ahead of Wednesday’s regular season opener. The Wizards probably have a similar goal, so don’t expect either side to go all-out, even with a “real” meeting on tap for the Wizards’ home opener on Nov. 2.
The preseason hasn’t changed a whole lot, in the eyes of oddsmakers. If you look at the Betway odds here, you’ll see that the Raptors are still 26-to-1 to win the NBA Championship, sixth among all teams. Nobody seems particularly moved by a 2-3 preseason, though it’s interesting to note that the Raptors and Celtics have equal odds to win the Atlantic Division but not the conference or finals (I wonder how much of that is an expectation the Celtics could make a mid-season addition, or if it’s just the market forces we’ve discussed). The Wizards, meanwhile, have much longer odds in the East (41-to-1) than the Raptors (13) or Celtics (7), surely because they no longer have #PlayoffWittman.
The Raptors have played the preseason at the league’s fourth-slowest pace, while the Wizards haven’t been much faster, so expect a plodding game. Maybe. We know the Raptors will play slow, as they played at the league’s second-slowest pace a season ago, but Washington was top-five in pace last year. Perhaps Scott Brooks is trying to slow things down, and preseason changes in pace explain at least some of the year-to-year variability in team pace. Slower teams have been shown to have a slightly greater impact on pace than faster teams, but there’s a lot of noise game-to-game. Not that you really care about pace in a preseason game, but I went down a rabbit hole and thought I’d share.
The game tips off at 7 p.m. and has been added to the Sportsnet One schedule, although Raptors.com hasn’t updated their game information yet.
The Raptors are going to continue to play it cautious with Jared Sullinger as he works his way around a sore left foot that’s now lingered for almost a month. He will not play in the preseason finale, and now the long-assumed target date – the season opener – is in jeopardy, per Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. That’s just…great. We covered this off here.
Terrence Ross, meanwhile, will sit again due to knee soreness, contrary to reports from Friday’s shootaround. AND CONTRARY TO THAT, the team changed course at the last minute and Ross IS dressing now. Confusing two hours.
Cory Joseph is out with the flu, too. Those absences should give Fred VanVleet and Drew Crawford a nice opportunity to make their closing arguments in the fight for the 15th roster spot. (Note: There seems to be some confusion as to whether or not Joseph is actually out.)
As for the others, here’s a best pass,though it’s worth keeping in mind that Casey wants something closer to a regular-season rotation.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Brady Heslip,
Delon Wright (shoulder), Cory Joseph (flu)
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell, Drew Crawford
SF: DeMarre Carroll, Terrence Ross, Bruno Caboclo, E.J. Singler
PF: Pascal Siakam, Patrick Patterson, Jarrod Uthoff,
Jared Sullinger (foot)
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Lucas Nogueira, Jakob Poeltl, Yanick Moreira
For reference, here’s how the minutes have shaken out so far:
Known commodities: Valanciunas 103 (20.6/game), Patterson 95 (19), Joseph 95 (18), Lowry 87 (21.8), DeRozan 79 (19.8), Carroll 78 (19.5)
Getting acclimated: Sullinger 23 (23)
Competition 1: Siakam 127 (21.2), Nogueira 95 (15.8), Poeltl 77 (12.8)
Competition 2: Powell 132 (22.8), Ross 50 (16.7)
Competition 3: Crawford 114 (22), VanVleet 115 (19.2), Heslip 43 (14.3), Singler 41 (10.3), Uthoff 8 (8), Moreira 5 (5)
Other: Caboclo 64 (12.8), Wright 0
The Wizards are rolling in mostly healthy, but they might opt to take it cautious with their bumps and scrapes. Jason Smith has an oblique issue and Otto Porter has a rib injury, both of which kept them out Tuesday but are considered mostly minor. Meanwhile, Ian Mahinmi is probably going to miss upwards of a month of the regular season following knee surgery.
PG: John Wall, Trey Burke, Casper Ware
SG: Bradley Beal, Tomas Satoransky, Marcus Thornton, Sheldon McClellan
SF: Otto Porter (ribs), Kelly Oubre, Danuel House, Jarell Eddie
PF: Markieff Morris, Andrew Nicholson, Jason Smith (oblique), Daniel Ochefu
C: Marcin Gortat, Johnny O’Bryant,
Ian Mahinmi (knee)
The Wizards are 2.5-point favorites. Our last piece of preseason #ProveEm.