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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Toronto Raptors

The Spurs hunt for a win with a roster in flux

NBA: Toronto Raptors at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Writing about basketball match-ups is always an interesting task right around the trade deadline. Even more so when both of the teams involved are being heavily mentioned in trade rumors and trade machine internet discourse.

The Spurs and Raptors might end rostering a number of new players by the time this game tips off, with multiple individuals serving as high-demand trade fodder, from Fred Van Vleet to Jakob Poeltl, and odds are that each team will make at least one move in the next two days.

On the other hand, it seems almost as likely that neither team will see any trade activity with their demands bordering (rightfully) on extortionary and with no pressing timeline for contention related moves. In fact, the Spurs have already made a cap relief trade with the Miami Heat, which makes this the first time they’ve made deadline trades in back-to-back seasons since...ever? It feels just as likely that they could call it a day, having proven to be almost impossible to anticipate in trade rumors over the years.

In either case, barring an completely improbable Kevin Durant blockbuster, it’s likely that both teams will still be close to what they were before the deadline, trades or no.

In Toronto’s case, that means a low-to-middling Eastern Conference team that’s proven to be resistant to both winning and losing streaks, and sits a decidedly mediocre 16th in net rating.

For the Spurs, it means more of the same in the NBA cellar, with (hopefully) more draft assets to toss on the pyre of hope.

In a less injured season, it’s likely that the Spurs and Raptors would serve as bizzaro versions of each other; with the Spurs sitting near the top in most assist related statistics (3rd in assists, 6th in assist ratio, 5th in assist percentage), but also in most turnover stats as well (3rd in turnovers per game, 25th in turnover percentage), and the Raptors sitting near the bottom in most assist categories, but 1st in most measures of turnover prevention.

But of course, the game of basketball isn’t limited to passing and turnover statistics, and the Raptors, while middling, are still sitting higher than the Spurs in most other categories; including both offensive and defensive rating.

And with San Antonio’s 2nd leading scorer, top floor general, and rookie sensation all likely out in this one, it’ll be a tough row to hoe for the Spurs in this one. Crazier things have certainly happened though.

San Antonio Spurs at Toronto Raptors

February 8, 2023 | 6:30 PM CT

Watch: Bally Sports Southwest|Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Devin Vassell - Out (Knee), Jeremy Sochan - Day-to-Day (Quad), Romeo Langford - Questionable (Hip), Tre Jones - Day-to-Day (Foot), Dewayne Dedmon - Day-to-Day (Cap Casualty)

Raptors Injuries: Otto Porter - Out (Foot), O.G. Anunoby - Out (Trade Fever)

For the Raptors’ fans’ perspective, visit Raptors HQ.

PtR’s Game thread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.