Game Preview: Raptors at Grizzlies
The Toronto Raptors will take on the Grizzlies in a back-to-back after flying to Memphis immediately after dropping a close 108-106 loss against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday. Toronto comes to Memphis having lost four straight and will face a rested Grizzlies team that last played on Saturday in a loss to the Houston Rockets.
Tip-off: 8:00 P.M. ET
Broadcast Info: TSN / SN590
Patrick Patterson returned to the court for the Toronto Raptors in Tuesday’s loss against the Spurs. Patterson had missed 10 of the previous 12 games with a sore left knee and his return was much welcomed, especially with DeMar DeRozan sidelined because of an ankle sprain.
In his first game back, Patterson played 21 minutes against the Spurs, scoring 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting to go with four rebounds and an assist.
“It helps our rhythm, our rotation,” Dwane Casey said of Patterson’s return. “Guys are back in their normal spots now, getting that band back together. I don’t know how many practices we’re going to have to get it back, but it’s good to have him back and give us a boost, especially the second unit. They have a good rhythm, a good feel for each other offensively and defensively. Hopefully it gives us a jolt on the defensive end and get our offence back in rhythm.”
Powell filling in for DeRozan
With DeMar DeRozan out for Toronto’s back-to-back against the Spurs and Grizzlies because of an ankle sprain, the Raptors know they will need to replace his 27.9 point-per-game average. Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has been stressing that the scoring will need to come within the flow of the offence and that no one player can replicate DeRozan’s game himself.
In the first game without their All-Star guard this season, the Raptors started sophomore Norman Powell alongside Kyle Lowry in the backcourt. Powell did an admirable job stepping in for DeRozan, scoring 16 points on 8-for-16 shooting in 39 minutes. Powell also added four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
On the second night of a back-to-back in Memphis, Powell will likely need help from Raptors reserves shouldering the load DeRozan normally carries for the team. Terrence Ross and Cory Joseph were both big for Toronto against the Spurs with Ross scoring 21 and Joseph adding 10 off the bench.
One of the hardest things to do in the NBA is to win while developing. Since Dwane Casey arrived in Toronto to become head coach of the Raptors six seasons ago, he has been tasked with doing both and his team has improved its record in each of his seasons with the team. Prior to Tuesday’s game against the Spurs, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich talked about the challenge facing Casey and other coaches in the same position.
“It is difficult,” Popovich said. “To sustain it and to sustain it and do better every year is a difficult thing. And what Casey’s done here is implemented a culture and a system. It doesn’t happen immediately, but as you all know by now, they’ve bought in, everybody knows what the deal is. He’s going to be consistent, he’s going to be demanding, he’s going to be fair. It starts with defence. ‘Cause no team is the last team standing without being a really good defensive team. And he’s always known that, he’s always been like that and he’s had the courage to do that here and people are figuring it out.
“He’s got a good group, good character group, talent is better every year. That’s where they are where they are. They’re a contender without a doubt. With the other few teams — I don’t know, three, four or five teams in the East and three, four, five teams in the West. It’ll be a hell of a battle.