The Toronto Raptors came away with a win in New Orleans, but the injuries to Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka look to be more costly than any individual loss. Who will see an increase in minutes during their absence?
The Toronto Raptors won the game but lost the war in Friday night’s battle against the New Orleans Pelicans. Yes, they have another win in their pocket, but the cost of victory was more than anyone would have hoped. Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka will both miss significant time with injuries sustained while competing in the Big Easy.
According to Rachel Nichols of ESPN, Kyle Lowry’s non-shooting hand fracture will be re-evaluated in two weeks. That means two weeks until we have a clear timetable and likely a minimum of three weeks until he returns.
Ibaka, meanwhile, is still awaiting additional tests to determine the length of his absence. The only real knowledge we have is that Nick Nurse has described the sprain as “pretty bad.” Bad ankle sprains can even be worse than a clean break depending on the location. The team hasn’t indicated a “high” ankle sprain, which is at least somewhat promising.
The Raptors were already relatively thin prior to these injuries. Nurse has been running a rotation of primarily seven players, with Patrick McCaw serving as the eighth-man when healthy. His injury feels substantially worse than it did just a few days ago.
The Raptors will need the other members of that rotation to step up. Fred VanVleet becomes the team’s sole true point guard, Marc Gasol is expected to see an increase in minutes, and Norman Powell will need to start showing consistency for the first time in his career.
But while their efforts are important, just as important are the players soaking up the excess minutes. Nurse will need to expand his rotation beyond what we’ve seen thus far, and that expansion will include names who have received a sparring amount of time thus far.
So who’s expected to see the most significant uptick, and can they step up?