Amid the discussion of high minutes, the next most talked about topic comes in the form of the Toronto Raptors’ tight losses – three of their last four have had a combined 13 points, compared to three of the league title contenders to boot . There’s a silver lining somewhere in the minute discussion and a poor road trip record: it involves a rotation that suffers from injuries and benefits from the supreme play of its stars.

Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Fred VanV… All-Star recorded unusually high minutes, as you may have read in every Raptors post, newspaper column and fan blog since the road trip began. What crime the players committed to deserve the punishment they endure on a statewide road trip remains a mystery.

All joking aside, Eric Koreen tweeted a startling stat that illustrates the noodle legs that Toronto’s six- or seven-man rotation succumbed to:

My oh my. Koreen grilled Nurse with that tune after the loss to the Dallas Mavericks, to which Nurse replied “I think we’re playing really well.”

Fred VanVleet recently said in a presser that he wants to stay in shape throughout the season, which means playing games – without taking time off throughout the season. Perhaps the nurse takes this concept a little too much to heart. This brings to mind Toronto’s lack of two starters in Gary Trent and Khem Birch, and an extremely thin backcourt (only if we count the traditional short guys, of course).


Where to watch:

TSN, 8 p.m.

Compositions:

Toronto—Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher

Washington – Spencer Dinwiddie, Bradley Beal, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Kyle Gafford

Injuries:

Toronto – Gary Trent (questionable – ankle), Khem Birch (outside – nose),

Washington – none (amazing!)


Tired of talking minutes

There is to be a publications roundtable, where Raptors editors get together and discuss which outlets are talking about topics in any given week. We heard about the minutes from all angles, and frankly, I can’t wait for the fatigue to set in. Sure, I like to discuss it when we lose because it’s an easy flag to point, but let’s enjoy it for a paragraph not on the minutes (since I’ve been dousing you all with my own poison for nearly a hundred words.

Gary Trent is doubtful to return tonight, and that’s great news for Toronto’s winning chances. One thing that was so obviously lacking is the spacing provided by Trent. In fact, its absence has been so evident that we’re starting to hear Gary Harris, Caris LaVert, and Terrence Ross seeping into content about business goals.

Speaking of goals…

Bring back Jakob Poeltl. This should be the sole focus of the front office. Yak is enjoying his breakout season, scoring effectively around the basket, rebounding offensively and creating concussion-inducing screens like Steven Adams 2.0. A Poeltl-level peripheral offensive player (essentially Khem Birch on steroids) would propel this team into eventual “playoff home court” status.

Even more impressive than his 4.0 offensive rebounds per game are his 28.7 minutes per game (for just 3.0 personal fouls) and 2.8 assists. Myles Turner, now with an injured foot, could still cost a first-round pick or (yikes) OG Anunoby. Poeltl would likely cost almost that much, though a premiere is always a possible prize. More than likely the price – taking money from the contract for Goran’s expiration.

star voting

The third round of star voting has returned and Fred sits outside of the top five Eastern guards. It looks like he will have to be chosen by the coaches which, given his focus on defense, should be a no-brainer. It remains to be seen whether he succeeds in the team as a shoemaker. Even Kevin O’Connor takes notice.

Enjoy the game tonight!

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