The Raptors return from a brief Holiday break looking for a sixth straight win. Unfortunately, they’re looking for it in San Antonio…
Start time: 8:30 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet One
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Mickael Pietrus, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson (Might we see Aaron Gray get the start so that Amir can continue to be a nice punch off of the bench?)
San Antonio: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter
Toronto: Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas and Andrea Bargnani are all out
San Antonio: Gary Neal is out
- With the news that Kyle Lowry will be held out tonight so that he can get another practice in before he returns, the Raptors will be missing three players from their opening night starting lineup. With Landry Fields yet to play a single minute since returning from injury, only DeMar DeRozan is left from the original starting five.
- In a way, Lowry missing this game might be slightly beneficial for his rep among some Raptors fans. Toronto’s obviously not expected to win tonight, but if Lowry returned in what should go down as the Raptors’ first loss in two weeks, you know there would still be people out there who actually pinned the loss on a lack of chemistry or something Kyle “caused.” If things go according to script and the Raptors fall in San Antonio, at least Lowry won’t have the cloud of “you better not screw this up” in the middle of a win streak hanging over his head when he returns.
- Speaking of Lowry, did you see the latest rumour to emerge on Christmas Eve? Bulls writer Sam Smith, who was the first one to write about the Raptors being a free agency possibility for Steve Nash way back in May, wrote that “the Raptors supposedly would like to put Kyle Lowry in a trade package and keep Jose Calderon.” Smith doesn’t expand on the details at all, but I figured it was obviously worth a share with any Raptors fans that hadn’t seen it yet. I’m sure we’ll get to dissecting the rumour if it spreads.
- With Bargnani and now Valanciunas both out, the Raptors are clearly undermanned with their bigs. Ed and Amir will have to shoulder a heavy dose of minutes, and Aaron Gray will have to be relied upon to hold the fort and set the tone for more minutes than he’s been used to so far this season. But what I’m really interested in seeing is whether Quincy Acy gets some non-garbage time minutes at the four.
- The Raptors and Spurs played an incredibly close double-overtime thriller earlier this season in Toronto, but the Raps got a combined 42 points from Lowry and Valanciunas in that game, so they’re going to be in tough to replicate the competition they gave the Spurs, especially in San Antonio. Remember that Davis had 15 points and 14 rebounds in only 22 minutes that day though, so perhaps he can thrive in starter’s minutes against this Spurs team.
- Given that it’s been five days since the last Raptors game and the fact that they’re riding a five-game winning streak, I’m sure most of you are genuinely excited for this game, but I hope no one is thinking too crazy. The Spurs are 10-2 at home, they’ve outscored opponents by 146 points over 12 games at home this season (an average margin of 12.2), they drilled Dallas by 38 in their last game on Sunday and the Raptors are 2-14 on the road with an average margin of defeat of 9.9 points. At 9-19, there’s no time for moral victories, and I would never want the players on the team thinking “let’s just keep this close,” but I still think most fans would take some solace in the Raptors keeping it competitive tonight.
- We’ve been on a bit of a Holiday hiatus ourselves here at RaptorBlog and we’ll be generally lighter than usual until the new year, but we’ll still have games covered with threads and post-game thoughts and we’ll be here to react in the event any Raptors-related news breaks between now and then. Enjoy the game.