Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
After dropping a close 108-106 decision to the Denver Nuggets on Monday in Calgary, the Raptors look to get back on track against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.
Tip-off: 10:30 P.M. ET
Broadcast/Radio Info: TSN1/4
A Proper Start
In the aftermath of Saturday’s loss to the Nuggets, Dwane Casey had plenty of praise for his rookies and second unit, but he wasn’t particularly pleased with the way his team started the game. Of course in preseason, starting lineups are shuffled game-to-game, and the Raptors were also without regular starters DeMarre Carroll (rest) and Jared Sullinger (sore foot), but Casey felt the team could have got off to a better, tougher start.
Look for the team to try to set a tone early in Los Angeles. After a week of intense training sessions, it can be easy to let up with the end of training camp creeping closer. After digging a hole earlier against Denver, Casey hopes his entire roster, top to bottom, will be better prepared come game time Wednesday night.
One of the rules of preseason is never buy into too much too quick. Someone can have a bad preseason and a perfectly fine regular season. A player that looks fantastic in the early goings of October can fade into obscurity before Christmas. All of that being said, backup point guard Fred VanVleet is making the most out of every opportunity he has been given in the preseason. The Wichita State graduate has performed well in his preseason appearances, showing a steady calmness that belies his inexperience at the NBA level.
VanVleet went undrafted in June, but has moved past that disappointment to focus cleanly on the opportunity ahead. “It’s a motivational thing for me, but I don’t dwell on it,” he told Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun. “I’m in a great position here and I’m a firm believer that things fall the way they are supposed to.”
With Raptors sophomore point guard Delon Wright injuring his shoulder in July, VanVleet’s audition becomes that much more important. Toronto has 10 players on the roster that are under 25 years old. Four-year senior VanVleet is 22 years-old, but comes to the Raptors with a maturity that can be traced to his four years of college experience.
Applying the same caveat as above — yes it’s early, yes it is preseason, but yes— Terrence Ross is looking good to start the preseason. After a solid debut against the Golden State Warriors, Ross led all scorers on Saturday, scoring 23 points off the bench against the Nuggets. Ross did his damage in 20 minutes of play, making 8-of-12 shots, including 4-of-7 three-pointers.
He’s playing with the kind of aggressiveness Casey wants to see from him, but Casey stressed that he needs to keep up the same focus and approach moving forward.
“It’s early,” Casey said. “He has to be consistent. The key word is consistency. I like what I see. I like his approach. He has a seriousness about his approach.”
After being disappointed with the way his starters began the game in Calgary, seeing Ross come into the game ready to go was a welcomed sight that the Raptors coach hopes will continue.
“The closer we get to the regular season, everyone has got to have that type of seriousness to their approach,” he said. “Terrence [has had] a serious approach.”