Title: Raptors’ inconsistent regular-season rotations could end up helping them come playoff time
Date: March 19, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors’ inability to field a full, healthy rotation and how that may have revealed some important notes about their potential playoff rotation.
Though it is difficult to remember, there was a time when the Raptors had a full contingent of players available to them. Once. Back in November, when the roster was dramatically different, on a night when Kawhi Leonard’s load was not being managed, Kyle Lowry’s back was not acting up, Norman Powell’s shoulder was better and Jonas Valanciunas and Fred VanVleet had not yet had their respective left thumbs injured.
Technically, there was a second occasion in February — the team’s first game with Marc Gasol — though they did not yet employ Jeremy Lin or, in an official capacity, Malcolm Miller. So effectively, the team has played two games with a #FullSquad, and they both contain roster-change corollaries.
That was supposed to change Wednesday. Lowry returned from a sprained ankle Monday, helping lead the Raptors to a 128-92 drubbing of the New York Knicks with 13 points, 12 assists and a plus-33 in 28 minutes. Serge Ibaka was serving the final game of his suspension, too, VanVleet was back from his thumb injury and Leonard seemed likely to play the next time out after a night off to manage the load. It was supposed to come together right as the team plays their last two games of the season against an opponent with a net rating greater than zero.
“It hasn’t helped us that we’ve had so much movement in our roster, as well,” Nick Nurse said before the game. “But saying that, I’m happy as always to get a look at some other guys and figure out where they’re going or where they’re not going, and look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel. I think by the end of this week we are gonna finally get our entire team on the floor, which should change a lot of rotations and a lot of things. So we’ll keep playing until that moment comes, but we look forward to it.”