It’s a battle of skeleton rosters once again in Tampa. Let’s tune in.
A G-League team rolls into Tampa to take on a severely depleted NBA team tonight. I won’t re-hash my feelings on the Thunder, who have only further leaned into their blatant tank job since last the Raptors took them on at the end of March. In fact, OKC hasn’t won a game since they took down the Raptors on 19 days ago. You can read the Game Thread from that night to reacquaint yourself with what I think about Sam Presti and his teardown that didn’t need to happen.
Toronto enters this game missing its four best players due to a combination of rest and nagging injuries — the team’s spotty reporting of which earned a $25,000 slap on the wrist from the NBA yesterday. Still waiting on the league’s punishment for the Thunder shutting down a perfectly healthy Al Horford. Apparently because they were up front with their intentions that makes it totally fine.
Even with the absences, though, don’t expect the Raptors to go out of their way to lose this one. Recent games have seen a developmental lean from Toronto, yes. But the guys available have shown a propensity for competing. That’ll happen when your healthy guys are nearly all fighting for their next contracts. The likes of Yuta Watanabe, Paul Watson Jr., Malachi Flynn and Khem Birch have played so well recently in fact that the Raptors come into this one as 5.5 point favourites.
That’s probably not music to the ears of tank heads. But here’s hoping another look at this landfill of a roster Oklahoma City is rolling out can impress how much more fun it is when your team is actually trying to win, even if a hotly contested 10-seed is the only prize to be earned right now.
Read our guy JD’s preview, and enjoy the Yuta show.
Where to Watch
Sportsnet, 7pm EST
Oklahoma City — “Googles Oklahoma City Blue 2021 lineup”
Toronto — Malachi Flynn, Gary Trent Jr., Paul Watson Jr., Chris Boucher, Khem Birch
Oklahoma City — Al Horford (plays for dirt franchise — OUT), Lu Dort (hip — QUESTIONABLE), Gabriel Deck (not with team — OUT), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (foot — OUT), Josh Hall (knee — OUT), Mike Muscala (ankle — OUT), Aleksej Pokusevski (arm — PROBABLE)
Toronto — Kyle Lowry (toe / rest — OUT), OG Anunoby (calf — OUT), Fred VanVleet (hip — OUT), Pascal Siakam (shoulder — OUT), Jalen Harris (hip — OUT)