Three Thoughts: Ibaka and Siakam look to get going, Gasol returns

Aaron Rose

The Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies will play this afternoon in what may be the best looking game of the season.

The Raptors will wear their white throwback uniforms with the old dinosaur on the front while the Grizzlies will counter with their teal Vancouver throwbacks with the Grizzly bear on the front. 

Toronto will have an opportunity to clinch the second-best record in the Eastern Conference this afternoon after squandering their first opportunity to clinch the two seed in a 122-100 loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday.

"Those games happen in the NBA," Nurse said of the blowout loss. "Boston was really good, we weren't very good. We addressed more of it today, I would say, pre-game, just some things that felt we gotta do in general to play the way we wanna play."

Today's game will also be the first part of a back-to-back for Toronto who will take on the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.

Here are three things to look for:

1: Can Serge Ibaka get it going?

Serge Ibaka was one of the bright spots for Toronto during the team's scrimmage games. He shot 62.5% from the floor and was 5-for-9 from behind the arc in Toronto's three scrimmage games. During the seeding games, however, Ibaka hasn't looked right. He's shooting just 39.5% from the floor and 2-for-13 from 3-point range with seven turnovers with a -14.8 Net Rating.

"He was playing very, very well in the [scrimamge] games and he hasn’t played well at all here for a while," Nurse said. "A lot of that is wrapped up in the shots, not making them effects a lot of things. Usually his running and his defense as well, but we go through this as well sometimes, not just with Serge but with everybody. Guys aren’t going to play great all the time, they’re going to have some dips in performance or dips in opportunity or whatever, and then we bounce back and I’m sure Serge is ready to do that today."

The Raptors are going to need Ibaka to find his groove again and begin draining 3-point shots like he was earlier in the season when he was shooting nearly 40% from deep.

After leaving the Boston game early with a right eye scratch, Ibaka is listed as probable against Memphis.

2: Pascal Siakam rebound game

Pascal Siakam is yet to have a really standout game in the NBA bubble and is coming off his worst game of the season, a 5-for-15, 11-point performance against the Celtics.

With Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justice Winslow out for the season, Siakam should have some room to maneuver against the Grizzlies.

3: Marc Gasol and Jonas Valanciunas return games (sorta)

This is supposed to be the first opportunity for Grizzlies fans to see Marc Gasol back in Memphis and subsequently, Raptors fans first opportunity to see Jonas Valanciunas back in Toronto. Now, both fan bases are going to have to make do with a bubble return.

Based on conversations with Sports Illustrated's Grizzlies reporter Anthony Sain, Memphis has been thrilled with Valanciunas and has no regrets with the 2019 deadline deal that sent Gasol to Toronto. I'm pretty confident Raptors fans have no regrets either based on how last season ended.

The game will tip-off at 2 p.m. ET this afternoon.

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