Almost full list of Toronto Raptors is ready to make its debut on New Year’s Eve

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We have all been in and through and around this pandemic long enough to know that there is no point in predicting anything about it.

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But there was a sense of at least hope yesterday at the Raptors OVO training facility, where all the regular rotation players for the first time since training camp were present and participating in the training.

Still missing are two-way player Justin Champagnie, who was heading into the rotation before COVID interrupted things, and Isaac Bonga, who sits somewhere between the end of the bench with the Raptors and the starter with the G-League 905.

But getting people like Fred VanVleet, AND Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa and Khem Birch back was like a new beginning for this team that has not really had the opportunity to show what they can do with full force because they still do not have that point now.

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It could come Friday as the Los Angeles Clippers look past for a New Year’s Eve stilt that will now be limited to 1,000 non-paying spectators in line with the province’s new capacity limits, after the province again cut capacity for sporting events with the Omicron variant Running Wild.

On the field, Nick Nurse will have some decisions to make, including who his starting five will be with all the options dressed and willing.

“I would say I expect everyone, but again, it’s almost a half-day-by-half-day situation,” the nurse said Thursday. “But at least we’re in a situation where if someone does not come to the match (Friday), whatever the reason, there will be someone else, hopefully, in the position (as) to replace them.”

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“I think there are probably seven guys there, Freddie, Gary (Trent Jr.), OG, Pascal (Siakam), Scottie (Barnes), Precious (Achiuwa) and Khem (Birch), who are all what I am. would consider as starters, “said the nurse. “How it shakes out Friday, we’ll see.”

The nurse admitted that he would have to spend some time with his whiteboard later on Thursday to play with the combinations and come up with five from that group to start, but it could very well be the case that another five starts on Sunday against it. Knicks based on matchups.

VanVleet, who only missed the two matches while in the league’s health and safety records, admitted that this form feels like a fresh start for a team that, despite their own COVID outburst not to mention a number serious injuries to key personnel, finds itself just 21/2 matches out of sixth in the conference and only 41/12 left of fourth with 51 matches left.

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“I’m happy with what’s going on in this gym and the team we have, and that pretty much all of our principals are on minutes for a period of time, and now we’re looking and hoping to be on the other side of it. soon, “said VanVleet. – To get everyone back, all healthy, because we have not really had a full team this year.

“So we’m certainly not happy with our record and some of the matches we’ve lost this year, but I think it’s our chance after some sort of reset period to somehow screw it up again,” he said. . “A kind of fresh start to build some positive momentum going forward and everyone is better today than we were at the start of the season and that’s all you can ask for.”

THE ONE WHO RELEASES
No, not Kawhi Leonard. He wanted to go home to California. The one who escaped the Raptors is Serge Ibaka, who wanted to return after the Eastern Conference semifinal loss to the Celtics in the Bubble, but who never really got much of an opportunity as the Raptors chose to value financial flexibility without a chance . that Giannis Antetokounmpo became available over giving Ibaka the period he deserved.
Instead of making a deal that would favor the Raptors and hurt themselves, Ibaka moved on to the Clippers and must face his former team for the first time on Friday if he is healed when the Clippers make their only visit to Toronto.

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Injuries have limited Ibaka to just 57 games over the course of a season and a half since signing with the Clippers ahead of the 2020 season.

Ibaka did not meet the Raptors at all in 2020-21 and missed both games with injury.

A popular figure whose popularity exploded during the championship season, Ibaka is guaranteed to get a nice welcome from the limited capacity allowed in on Friday.

“Serge is incredible,” VanVleet said of one of his vets. “He was incredible in his time here. He taught us young guys so much about routine. He left as an example a lot and took care of his body, the work he puts in, the time and the craft he puts into himself as a person and as a player is incredible. And that’s before you even get to his game on the field. “I think Serge is yet another of the guys who was captured by the greatness of what that (championship) team was.” said VanVleet. “You do not really see it before he left. Now you can see how much he did for us, especially on the field.

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“He’s a really great man in this league on the spot, with the abilities, the defense, the shooting. It’s all about situation. We needed him. We had the guy who came off the bench as good as he was.

“Do you know what I’m saying? It was incredible for him to sacrifice it and play some of his best basketball here.”

mganter@postmedia.com

TIPOFF: MOWERS BY ROPHYVER

Toinght, Los Angeles Clippers (18-17) and Toronto Raptors (14-17), Scotiabank Arena, 7:30 p.m., TV SNET; RADIO: FAN590

SCOUTER REPORT: It’s not so much the health and safety protocols that keep the Clippers down, as it is the handful of key players who are injured. The Clippers won Wednesday in Boston despite a starting lineup that did not include Kawhi Leonard, Paul George or Reggie Jackson. Jackson should be back for the Toronto game, but the two pillars remain out, George with a torn ligament in his right elbow that will keep him out for at least another three weeks, and Leonard with the torn ACL, although there are reports that that he is ahead of schedule for a return. The Clippers have only won two of their last seven.

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MARQUEE MATCHUP: Without their marquee players, the focus is likely to return to Marcus Morris, who will see a lot of both OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam defensively. Morris comes after a game with 23 points and 10 rebounds against Boston, so his confidence will be high. He is averaging 15 and five for the season. Anunoby, provided he plays, will see his first action since the Raptors defeated the Golden State list that sent all of his starters home ahead of the game in Toronto.

DID YOU KNOW: Nicolas Batum, who has been out since the Boxing Day match is listed as day to day and could return to this match … Serge Ibaka, a key member of the 2019 Championship Raptors’ team will play his first match against his former teammates since leaving before the 2020 season… The Raptors were swept by the Clippers last season… The Clippers own the fourth best defensive rating in the NBA, giving opponents only 105.5 points per 100 ball possessions. Conversely, they score only 105.8 points per game. 100 possessions themselves, which is the fourth worst offensive assessment in the association.

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