Game Preview: Raptors vs. Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs are in town to take on the Raptors on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre. The Spurs arrive in Toronto fresh off a 112-86 victory against the Brooklyn Nets to face a Raptors team that is eager to snap a three-game losing streak.
Tip-off: 7:00 P.M. ET
Broadcast Info: SN1 / SN590
DeRozan ruled out for Toronto’s next two games
The Raptors’ 115-103 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday gave the team its first three-game losing streak since Nov. 15 2015. Even worse than the loss or the losing streak, though, was that DeMar DeRozan was injured in the fourth quarter.
DeRozan landed awkwardly after taking a jumper, turning his right ankle. After the game it had swollen and he had a noticeable limp in the locker room. Although he said he was hopeful it wouldn’t last long when he was asked about it on Sunday night, the team announced on Monday afternoon that he will miss the next two games (a back-to-back against San Antonio and Memphis) and will then be re-evaluated at the end of the week.
“It sucks,” DeRozan said. “I tried to go with the mindset this year [of] wanting to play all 82 [games]. That was my mindset, just doing that, accomplishing that, but things happen. Maybe it’ll force me to sit down and get a rest for a couple of days and come back better.”
DeRozan had played in all 44 games for Toronto prior to suffering the ankle sprain. He is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 27.9 points per game. Without him in the lineup for the next two games, Dwane Casey will need others to fill the scoring void in his absence, but they’ll need to do it by playing their own game.
“The thing is they need to do what they do,” Casey said. “They are not going to score in the traditional DeMar DeRozan way. They aren't going to score in the traditional, DeMar DeRozan way. Mid-range shots and get to the free throw line. We are going to have to do it different ways: Get to the rim, run in transition, run the floor, attack the rim and finish. We missed nine layups last night. Those things we can control.”
Patterson goes through full practice
In addition to DeRozan’s injury woes, forward Patrick Patterson has been sidelined for much of the new year, playing in just two of the team’s previous 12 games because of a sore knee. He did get some on court work in following the team’s film session in advance of Sunday’s loss to the Suns, but did not play against Phoenix.
There was good news out of practice on Monday when Dwane Casey confirmed that Patterson went through the full practice. Although his status for Tuesday’s game is unknown, Patterson getting cleared to participate in practice is a positive boost for the team with the news that DeRozan will be out for the next two games.
Next man up
With DeMar DeRozan sidelined for the next two games in the midst of a three-game losing streak, Dwane Casey is challenging his players to dig deep and stay calm.
“Next guy up,” Casey said. “Everybody [on the outside is] in panic mode right now. It’s not time to panic. We’re going through a tough time. Every team goes through this time every year. Again, it’s how you come out of it. We’re a little discombobulated with injuries. That’s no excuse. We put ourselves in a position to win the game [Sunday night] and didn’t come through with it. Our rhythm is off offensively. Shots that guys were making, same shots they were making earlier, they’re missing now. It’s about the rhythm. Some of the combinations I’ve had to go with has our rhythm off a little bit. But again, this is part of the NBA. How you come out of this, how you fight against it, how you compete against it, is how you come out of it. That’s the most important thing.”
Casey has been on the team to improve efforts defensively, but without the steady lineup due to injuries, it becomes more challenging to get back to the basics. Now with DeRozan and his 27.9 points per game out for the next two games, the offence will also look a bit different. Still, Casey wants the Raptors to control as much as they can control, on both ends of the floor.
“It’s a whole bunch of things that we’ve got to get back in a rhythm,” Casey said. “Get in a rotation back where it’s semi-normal, where guys understand spacing, timing, shot selection, who is going up to screen, who is running up in transition, who is spacing to the short corner. A lot of different things because we’re playing different combinations. We’re not going to solve all of the problems in one game.
“The one thing you can do is continue to compete and play tough in tough times. Don’t get pushed out of position at the end of the day in tough situations. Don’t get out-physical-ed in those situations. Those are the things that we’ve got to understand when the game is on the line.”