The Raptors are in Utah tonight for the second game of their late-season western road swing. That fact alone would be noteworthy enough given that Toronto rarely visits the far coast past February or March. Nonetheless, on top of being out there right now preparing for a showdown with the Jazz, it is also May 1. This is a time usually reserved for playoff basketball and nothing else. This strange season continues.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, for the first time since 2013-14, it does not seem likely that the team will make the playoffs. Indeed, they won’t even finish above .500, which is the first time that’s happened since 2013. It’s been quite a run, but with nine games left and Toronto now three games out of the tenth seed — held by the Wizards, of all teams — the math is surely against them. To prove my point: tonight is the first stage of a back-to-back and the Raptors have given Kyle Lowry the night off, which, sorry to say, tells you everything you need to know about the late-season situation — and the team’s actual sense of urgency.
So now we’ll see what the other Raptors are made of. The team will start rookie Malachi Flynn in the backcourt with Fred VanVleet, and rely on OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam to generate a lot of their offense. Toronto’s bench crumbled against Denver on Thursday night, so we’ll see if they can bounce back against a Jazz team that’s easing its way towards the playoffs — and playing without two top players, Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley.
There may not be much to play for, but these two teams are still going to play. Here’s the preview from JD, below are the updated game details, and now: let’s watch.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet at 10:00pm EST
Toronto – Fred VanVleet, Malachi Flynn, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Khem Birch
Utah – Royce O’Neale, Bojan Bogdanovic, George Niang, Joe Ingles, Rudy Gobert
Toronto – Kyle Lowry (rest – out), Chris Boucher (knee – out), Gary Trent Jr. (leg contusion – out), Paul Watson (knee – out)
Utah – Donovan Mitchell (ankle – out), Mike Conley (hamstring – out), Udoka Azubuike (ankle – out)