WOLSTAT: After last year’s nightmare, the Raptors are living the dream

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After a season in which almost everything went wrong, it’s good to see things look up for the Toronto Raptors and their fan base.

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The news that Pascal Siakam is a week or two ahead of schedule and will play, at least a few minutes Sunday against Brooklyn, was the last ray of sunshine for a franchise that only misses the weather in Tampa Bay. Rookie star Scottie Barnes’ quick return to action after his thumb scare was also very welcome.

They can figure out what to do with the starting lineup once Siakam is in true game form, which could take weeks. On Saturday it rang out that Nick Nurse plans to get creative, as usual, and will pitch different top five on a regular basis, depending on the matchups. They’ll need a Khem Birch when facing a true giant (Precious Achiuwa has looked small against bigger opponents, while Birch has a long history of being able to compete against them), but they could get away with just starting their top five players. nights (Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Barnes and the emerging Gary Trent Jr.).

Trent has thrived as a starter this season, but throughout his career, his shooting has only gotten slightly better when he doesn’t come off the bench. He would power a bench that could use his scoring (and now, defense!) Too, but how do you play all Birch, Achiuwa and Chris Boucher as reserves? And do you really want Siakam, Barnes or Anunoby, who can deal with centers at least a little bit, to have to hit bigger opponents often? The answer to both questions is not so much. But while Barnes was a star backup at Florida State, how could he not be a starter when he’s been Toronto’s best player, or 1B or 1C with VanVleet and Anunoby (with Trent not far behind)?

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You will probably see the top five closing games.

My suggestion to start the games: go with those five, but take out Trent pretty quickly for Birch (when playing a bigger center) and bring Trent back when Anunoby, Siakam, or Barnes need to rest. At least in the beginning, Siakam will probably need short periods, so that’s an idea that makes some sense.

Cutting a player before most of his contract was guaranteed – in this case, Sam Dekker – always seemed like the move the Raptors would have to make. The team wasn’t using it anyway and now it’s going from potentially paying the luxury tax to getting a hefty check from the NBA for being below that line. Sure, they may have gotten there anyway by buying from Goran Dragic (or doing a trade involving the disgraced shipowner who gave them less pay, putting them below the tax line that way), but it’s easier to do. to get. certainty and make the decision now.

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Finally, what Kevin Durant is doing is absurd. He’s one of the top 10 players ever (and the top five scorers), but he’s not supposed to continue playing at the MVP level after his injuries. It’s extraordinary to have him back and finally play a game in Toronto for the first time since that horrible moment during the NBA Finals.

I hope the fans will give him a standing ovation when they introduce him after what happened the last time he was here (which, to be fair, I think has been overstated in terms of what actually happened in the stands).

THREE STARS

1- Darius Garland

2- Gary Trent Jr.

3- OG Anunoby

THREE STAR TOTALS SINCE OCTOBER (three points for the first star, two for the second, one for the third):

Scottie Barnes – 10 points

Fred VanVleet – 8

OG Anunoby – 7

Gary Trent Jr. – 3

Dalano Banton – 2

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Reference-torontosun.com

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