Posts Tagged ‘Toronto Raptors’

RAPTORS AT BUCKS, 8:30 P.M. ET

TV: League Pass

  • The last time the Raptors visited Milwaukee, each team had a decidedly different mood. The date was Nov. 2, the Bucks’ home opener. Milwaukee was coming off a rousing victory the night before, coming back from 22 down to beat the Boston Celtics. Each team was 1-1. The Raptors won that night but were still on their way to a 6-12 start. The Bucks would win their next game, then lose 11 straight and be buried at the bottom of the NBA standings the rest of the way. Hours after that game, Bucks center Larry Sanders injured his thumb in a bar fight, costing him eight weeks in what would become a totally lost season. A lot of things went bad for the Bucks since that night. “Yeah, they have. They certainly have,” said Bucks coach Larry Drew. For the Raptors, things went in a positive direction. “We kept getting better,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “I don’t know exactly what was going on with Milwaukee, but our team kept growing and getting better.” Casey also cited the Dec. 9 trade that sent Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray to Sacramento for John Salmons, Patrick Patterson, Greivis Vasquez and Chuck Hayes. Salmons, Vazquez and Patterson have been key bench players.
  • Guard Kyle Lowry (bruised left knee) and forward Amir Johnson (sore right ankle) are not expected to play. Johnson will miss his second straight game and Lowry his third. “It’s precautionary to make sure,” Casey said. “We need them, we want them, but we’d rather not risk their health.” Vazquez and Patterson will start in their places.
  • The Bucks signed forward Chris Wright to a 10-day contract Saturday. It’s the second 10-day contract for Wright, who also was with the Bucks from March 14-23. Wright could see action as the Bucks are quite depleted. Center Miroslav Raduljica (ankle), forward Epke Udoh (knee) and guard O.J. Mayo (ankle) will not play. They join Sanders (eye), forward Ersan Ilyasova (ankle), forward Carlos Delfino (foot) and guard Nate Walters (broken hand), who are all out for the rest of the season. That means the Bucks will only have eight available players for the second straight night.

Rick Braun

RAPTORS AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV:  League Pass

  • George Hill will return to the starting lineup tonight at point guard for the Pacers. He missed the past three games with a sore hip. Given the time missed, Coach Frank Vogel said he planned to be conservative with Hill’s playing time. “He hasn’t played in a week so we’ll keep an eye on his minutes,” Vogel said. “He probably won’t play starter minutes, but he thinks with his mobility he can help us, and so do I.”
  • In Hill’s absence, C.J. Watson started three games and averaged 11.0 points and 5.0 assists. Watson will return to the backup role.
  • Danny Granger, out since Oct. 19 with a strained left calf, may return to practice next week, though Vogel said there is no expectation, or timeline, beyond that. Granger is trying to return after missing all but five games last season with a knee condition that required major surgery last April.
  • At 5-0, Indiana already is off to the best start in the franchise’s NBA history. A victory tonight would match the fastest start ever. The Pacers started 6-0 in the 1970-71 ABA season.
  • Tyler Hansbrough returns to his original NBA home tonight. Though he has said it’s “just another game,” it’s bound to have some special meaning. Hansbrough spent his first four NBA seasons with the Pacers after being drafted No. 13 overall in 2009, averaging 8.9 points and 3.6 rebounds. “I don’t think it’s possible for him to play harder in this game than he does every single night,” Vogel said. “From that standpoint it’ll be another game for him. I’m sure he wants to win a little bit more, but the guy goes 100 million percent every time he’s out there.”
  • Hansbrough is averaging 19.7 minutes, 7.0 rebounds and 6.6 rebounds off the bench in Toronto. “I love him,” said Coach Dwayne Casey. “He’s not the most talented player in the world but he gives you every ounce of blood he has.” The game also marks the return of D.J. Augustin, who spent last season with the Pacers. Augustin is struggling thus far in Toronto, shooting 4-for-17 including 0-for-7 from the 3-point line.
  • Steve Novak will be back in the rotation for the Raptors tonight after being inactive the last four games. Acquired from the Knicks in the Andrea Bargnani deal in July, Novak is expected to bolster the Raptors’ 3-point shooting. Casey said neither Austin Daye nor Quincy Acy will play tonight. “That’s going to be a fluid situation,” he said. “Those last couple of spots on the bench are going to be matchup situations.”

- Conrad Brunner

RAPTORS AT CELTICS, 12:30 P.M. ET

TV: League Pass

  • Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is still nursing a sprained ankle he suffered Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz, but according to coach Doc Rivers, Rondo will play today.  When pressed on how much, Rivers explained that Rondo will play for as long as he is able.  Rivers went on to explain that he will be looking for signs of “limping and not being able to perform” as cues that Rondo needs a substitution.
  • When asked to evaluate Toronto’s luxury of having two starting-caliber point guards in Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry, Rivers responded by saying, “I don’t know.”  Rivers was giving a clear indication that the Celtics do not have a pure backup point guard to play behind Rondo.
  • Toronto power forward Amir Johnson is feeling better today and should be able to play.  According to Raptors coach Dwane Casey, Johnson “was much better this morning, kept his food down, and looked better so he will go today.”
  • Lowry will miss his fifth straight game with a foot injury.  Look for Calderon to start in Lowry’s place and get the majority of the minutes at the point guard spot.  Calderon is coming off of a game against Indiana where he had a triple double (13 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists).

– Brendan Jackson

RAPTORS AT CAVALIERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV: League Pass

  • Cavaliers rookie Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, will start at point guard ahead of veteran Ramon Sessions. Though Cleveland coach Byron Scott didn’t announce the move until game day, he said starting Irving was “pretty easy, when you think about putting him out there with veterans who can help him adjust like A.P. (Anthony Parker), Andy (Anderson Varejao), and Antawn (Jamison).” Irving averaged 16.0 points and 3.0 assists in the preseason.
  • Raptors center Aaron Gray (rapid heartrate) traveled with the team, but is being held out of the game for “very precautionary reasons,” according to general manager Bryan Colangelo. Coach Dwane Casey said Gray’s heart “fluttered on him in practice” on two occasions during the past week, prompting Toronto’s front office to seek additional medical advice before returning him to the court. Gray was signed as a free agent on Dec. 11.
  • The Raptors’ starting lineup is center Amir Johnson, power forward Andrea Bargnani, small forward Rasual Butler, shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, and point guard Jose Calderon. Casey gave Butler the nod at the three over James Johnson because he was a “steady Eddie.”
  • The Cavaliers are starting small forward Omri Casspi with Irving, shooting guard Parker, power forward Jamison, and center Varejao.
  • When he enters the game, center Jamaal Magloire will become the first native Canadian to play for Toronto.
  • Inactive for Cleveland were center Semih Erden (right thumb fracture) and guard Mychel Thompson, while the Raptors did not dress forward Linas Kleiza (right knee surgery) and Gray.

– Brian Dulik