Looking at the Toronto Raptors' injury report you'd almost think these games weren't all that important to them.
In prior years some rest here and there and drawn-out recovery timelines would make a ton of sense for the Raptors who often found themselves near the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Back then, Toronto wasn't so much focused on making the playoffs, the team was prioritizing staying healthy and being ready for the playoffs.
This year, however, things are a little different. Toronto is 21-34, two games out of the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference and spot in the play-in tournament and yet there doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency. For the second straight night, Kyle Lowry will sit out resting all while Fred VanVleet serves his one-game suspension, Gary Trent Jr. is sidelined with a right ankle injury, and DeAndre' Bembry is battling a hamstring issue. Almost Toronto's entire backcourt rotation will miss Wednesday night's game against DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs.
If we're being frank, it all smells a little bit like a tank. As of Wednesday morning, Toronto has a 26.3% chance at landing a top-four pick in what is widely considered a loaded 2021 NBA Draft. They squandered two golden chances to move up the lottery earlier this month by beating the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, but still, Toronto has the fifth-hardest remaining schedule and plenty of losable games upcoming.
The good news for those still wanting the Raptors to make the playoffs this season is VanVleet appears to be nearing his return. By serving his suspension on Wednesday it means he is supposedly healthy and he should be ready to go on Friday when the Raptors play host to the Orlando Magic.
The Raptors will also have Paul Watson Jr. back after the 27-year-old spent almost three weeks in the NBA's healthy and safety protocols.