The Toronto Raptors have struggled the past three games but the team’s injuries make it tough to gauge where they are against the elite teams.
Over the course of the season, the Raptors have proven they can overcome the adversity from their injuries with some great comebacks and dominant wins. At the same time, when they lose a to contending teams like the Nuggets or the Milwaukee Bucks, it’s tough to know whether they can keep up over a seven-game series.
Not having either Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka is not something that is easy to overcome because those are two players capable of being starters and producers both offensively and defensively. Sure Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and OG Anunoby have tried their best to fill is a bit much to ask.
"“I just think it seems like it catches up with you just a little bit here and there, and that’s kind of just the difference in the game,” Nurse said to reporters after the game. “Like, there’s a putback here and putback there, and just some pretty easy offense when he (Jokic) just goes down and parks in front of the rim and they throw it into him. There’s not much we can do because of the sheer size and strength of it.”"
As our friends at Raptors Rapture point out, Toronto is 15-10 with Gasol out of the lineup, 9-4 with Ibaka out and 7-5 with Fred VanVleet gone too. That is not terrible but you can bet that over a longer period and in situations where the matchups are tougher, having those players is crucial.
It would obviously be a benefit if Nick Nurse was comfortable enough to rely on his bench to step into these situations. The thing is that there’s only so much Terence Davis II, Chris Boucher, Patrick McCaw and Matt Thomas can do in situations against opposing starting lineups.
Norman Powell has shown that he can fill in for Fred VanVleet but taking him off the bench also takes away from what Nurse wants to do in certain situations where he tries different combinations on the floor.
Fortunately, the Raptors expect Gasol, Ibaka and VanVleet to return and hopefully, it will be enough time ahead of the playoffs. They can’t just hope everything comes together when Game 1 comes around.
What do you think about the recent string of injuries for the Raptors? Can they compete with any team when they are fully healthy? Let us know in the comments below.