Raptors say safety comes first to reduce sand capacity | The Canadian News

TORONTO – It’s been less than two months since the Toronto Raptors made a triumphant return to Scotiabank Arena, exactly 600 days since they last played at home.

While the Washington Wizards won, the regular season opener on October 20 felt like a win anyway. The Raptors were delighted to be home after spending a season playing in Tampa, Florida, and a crowd of 19,800 celebrated their return.

But the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Ontario felt like Groundhog Day on Thursday. Ontario’s provincial government is reducing crowds at events to half capacity, beginning with the Raptors’ game on Saturday against Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.

“I’m trying to be optimistic about it,” guard Fred VanVleet said in a virtual outlet available Thursday. “It’s a bit bittersweet, we were lucky to have the fans back, we were lucky to get back to the way things were, but obviously we have to put health and safety first.”

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Coach Nick Nurse said the feeling of sliding backwards is frustrating, but the team recognizes that safety comes first.

“Everyone can see the logic and I am like anyone, everyone has a moment to balance the disappointment because they want things to remain as they are or improve and they just are not now,” he said.

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“Common sense always prevails… and you have to adjust your thinking a bit. It takes a little while to let that move through you. Hopefully, we’ve learned a few lessons on how to stay focused, keep our heads down, work, be vigilant, and prepare to play.

“The game is still there to be played and we have to do our best and most professional work with it.”

The Raptors were not only the only NBA team to play outside of their market last season, they were also hit by a COVID-19 outbreak in late February that marked several key players, including VanVleet, and most of the corps. technician and watched them plummet. the Eastern Conference standings and lose the playoffs.

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They have also failed to dodge the virus this season. Precious Achiuwa missed four games according to a Toronto Public Health directive due to close contact, and team president Masai Ujiri announced he had COVID-19 after his African Giants event on December 5. saw several cases.

The Raptors had been scheduled to host Chicago on Thursday, but that game was postponed after 10 Bulls players entered league protocols.

The Brooklyn Nets had just a league-low eight players when they hosted Toronto on Tuesday, beating the Raptors 131-129 in overtime.

When asked if it felt strange to play against such a meager team, VanVleet said it wasn’t something the Raptors hadn’t experienced before.

“No, we did it last year, so there is nothing new,” he said. “Until I see a whole team with all the coaches out as well, as if we had it in a different city, then I will think something about it, but we have seen it all last year, so it was no different.”

About 33 league players were on health and safety protocols Thursday, including Canada’s RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks. Sacramento Kings interim coach Alvin Gentry and two players tested positive amid an outbreak there. Both the Knicks and Kings played in Toronto for the past week.

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are reportedly in the process of improving their health and safety protocols in response to the increase in cases.

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Nurse said the Raptors had already started rolling.

“We’ve had to go back, revamp our protocols to high levels, I think we’ve done an incredibly good job of that without even being told to do it,” Nurse said. “Maybe we’ve been a few days ahead of that and we’ve been doing all the double and thorough testing before we are allowed into the building, all that sort of thing since it was stricter.

“Your first reaction is ‘ah, more tests’ and you get over it after a day or five minutes or whatever and you realize you’re doing the right thing.”

The Raptors had good news Thursday. Achiuwa, OG Anunoby (hip injury) and Khem Birch (knee swelling) were practicing on their back. Anunoby, who is a great defender, was also the team’s top scorer when he got injured. He missed 13 consecutive games.

This Canadian Press report was first published on December 16, 2021.

© 2021 The Canadian Press


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