The storyline of Thursday night’s NBA matchup between the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs will focus on Kawhi Leonard squaring off against his former team. And that will likely carry over into the game and remain a hot-button topic, especially considering the Raptors will be shorthanded.
While Leonard is bound to do a lot of the heavy lifting regardless, the fact that All-Star guard Kyle Lowry may sit out only adds to his workload. The Raptors will also be without center Jonas Valanciunas due to surgery on his injured thumb in mid-December. There remains a chance that Lowry could play in this game, as ESPN’s Tim Bontemps revealed that he was upgraded from doubtful to questionable.
If Lowry is able to play it’ll certainly help the Raptors’ depth, but they are still shorthanded in the frontcourt, and we’re going to take a look at the latest on the roster outlook against the Spurs. It’s worth noting that if Lowry does suit up, he’ll almost certainly return to his starting role.
Raptors Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Spurs
*Notates projected starter
C: Serge Ibaka*, Greg Monroe
PF: Pascal Siakam*, Chris Boucher
SF: Kawhi Leonard*, OG Anunoby, Norman Powell
SG: Danny Green*, CJ Miles, Malachi Richardson
PG: Fred VanVleet/Kyle Lowry (if playing)*, Delon Wright, Lorenzo Brown
The Raptors have been dealing with a shortage of depth as of late, with Lowry missing eight of the last nine games due to a lower back injury. Toronto has won their last two games with Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam doing the bulk of the heavy lifting. If the team’s star guard is able to return, it’ll lead to Fred VanVleet likely being the first player off the bench.
Due to the absence of Valanciunas, the Raptors have gone smaller in terms of their lineups more frequently. The starting unit has also played big minutes for the most part, with Leonard playing 32 or more minutes in seven of the last nine games. Siakam has played 32-plus minutes in six of the seven while producing at an impressive mark in the process.
VanVleet has been the one to fill the void in Lowry’s absence while Greg Monroe has seen his minutes increase due to Valanciunas’ absence. Monroe has been a solid source of rebounding but has only scored seven points total in the past three games.
Strong Play of Kawhi Leonard & Pascal Siakam
With Lowry sidelined, the expectation was that Leonard would take on an even larger scoring role, and that’s been the case for the most part. In the eight games Leonard played without his teammate, he’s averaged 30.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. The 27-year-old is also coming off arguably his best game of the season in which he scored 45 points with six rebounds on 16-22 shooting.
Siakam has been one of the key members to step up alongside Leonard to this point as well. A candidate as the NBA’s breakout player of the year, he’s averaged 16.3 points and 7.6 rebounds over the last eight games. Siakam has now tallied a double-double in the team’s past two games as well, scoring 28 points with 10 rebounds on Tuesday and 20 points with 12 rebounds Sunday.