This game has “laugher” written all over it. As you’re probably aware, the Spurs are the most dominant team in the NBA right now, with a 35-6 record that puts them on pace for a 70-win season. They’ve had the exact same starting lineup (Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair) for all 41 games. In contrast, the Raptors have started 12 different players and it’s likely that only two of the opening day starters (Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan) will start tonight. The Raptors have been decimated by injuries — they have six players listed as “probable” or worse with several others that are playing hurt. The Spurs are obviously very good, but they’ve also been extremely lucky in the health department.
Needless to say, there is little reason to believe the Spurs won’t completely outclass the Raptors tonight. If you believe in moral victories, a single-digit loss would certainly qualify as one. I don’t expect any moral victories tonight. Barring a miracle, Raptors Tank Nation should remain firmly on course. The good news? Sportsnet One just went live on Cogeco Cable today which means Cogeco customers like me can actually watch this game live. Whether you actually want to watch what could be the basketball equivalent of a snuff film is up to you.
Toronto: Jerryd Bayless is probable for tonight while Linas Kleiza is doubtful. Leandro Barbosa, Sonny Weems and Peja Stojakovic are all out.
San Antonio: Antonio McDyess is probable but Matt Bonner is doubtful — although not because he ate a bad sandwich.
1. Has an NBA team ever been able to have the same starting lineup for all 82 games in a season? (Let me know in the comments if you know the answer.)
2. Should Matt Bonner be invited to participate in this year’s three-point shootout at the All-Star Game? He’s currently second in the league (behind Shawne Williams) with a .504 three-point shooting percentage.
3. Is anyone even surprised anymore when the Spurs discover another solid rotation player (like Gary Neal) that every other NBA team overlooked?
4. What’s been your impression of Sundiata Gaines so far? I like his ability to penetrate and create plays but he’s going to need to improve his shooting to stick around.
5. How lucky was Tiago Splitter to avoid a serious injury after this unfortunate follow-through on a dunk on Sunday? Andrew Bogut would say, “Very lucky.”
Start time: 8:30 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet One
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Julian Wright, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
San Antonio: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair
Tonight’s pregame song is “3′s and 7′s” by Queens of the Stone Age. No particular reason, just a great song by a great band.