The Toronto Raptors — or one could say, Tampa Raptors — are entering Thursday’s game versus the Chicago Bulls shorthanded, as coach Nick Nurse knows. This is all because of guard OG Anunoby’s flagrant foul on Dennis Schroder last Tuesday, which garnered multiple fines and suspensions from both the Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers players.
For the Raptors, DeAndre’ Bembry and Fred VanVleet — who left the bench during the quarrel on Tuesday — are suspended for Thursday’s game. It doesn’t help that the 2019 NBA champions are also missing guard Kyle Lowry and Jalen Harris, leaving the team with only eight available players on Thursday.
The short-handed Raptors will have eight players available vs. the Bulls due to injuries, health-and-safety protocols and DeAndre Bembry being suspended. Malachi Flynn will get his first NBA start.
— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) April 8, 2021
Nick Nurse: “The bench is getting a little thin. I told the team ‘No ejections tonight.’”
— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) April 8, 2021
Head coach Nick Nurse and his team can’t seem to catch a break this season. His team is arguably going through the hardest time as they had to adjust living in Tampa Bay instead of Toronto, their usual home. The Raptors started the season slowly; Pascal Siakam has struggled this year.
The Raptors lost big man Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka to the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers during the offseason.
The Raptors are currently 11th in the Eastern Conference standings with the record of 20-31—a far cry from where they were two years ago. Their loaded roster consists of Gasol, Ibaka, Lowry, Siakam and Anunoby was able to make it to the Eastern Conference semifinals last season but lost to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
It seems the Raptors are not going in this trajectory this season. Several teams in the East have loaded up and found their way to the top. The Canadian team, however, can still at least qualify for the play-in tournament this season.