Toronto Raptors dominant November key to season-long success

Toronto Raptors - Serge Ibaka (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Serge Ibaka (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Kyle Lowry (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Roster Changes

The Raptors went through some unexpected roster changes thanks to injuries in November. Two key players were out for nearly the entire month. While it’s never good when someone gets hurt, these injuries allowed Nurse to find some depth and get some of the younger players some experience.

Kyle Lowry injured his left thumb in Toronto’s November 8 matchup against the Pelicans. The fracture caused him to miss the entire month of November, although he’s expected to return to the lineup shortly. Lowry was having an awesome start to the season before the injury, scoring 21.8 points a game and shooting a career-high in both field goal (47.8) and three-point shooting (42.6) percentage.

Fred VanVleet has started at the point guard spot in his absence and he has played very well. VanVleet has averaged 21.2 points since Lowry’s been out and done a nice job controlling the offense. With FVV at the point, Norman Powell has been the starting two-guard and filling into that spot nicely. Terence Davis has gotten more run due to Lowry’s injury and he has played fairly well (join the Terence Davis bandwagon now if you haven’t already).

Serge Ibaka suffered a sprained ankle in the same November 8th game against the Pelicans. He was ruled out indefinitely and just made his return on December 1st. Chris Boucher filled in nicely with the minutes he has due to Ibaka’s absence.

Boucher has played over 12 minutes a game since the Pelicans game and has provided rebounding, offensive effort, and shot-blocking. Boucher took full advantage of the playing time and started to find his footing as the month progressed.

Other injury news includes Matt Thomas who suffered a broken left ring finger against the Philadelphia 76ers. The rookie sharpshooter will miss about four weeks. Thomas has gotten more playing time because of Lowry’s injury but will now miss some of his own.

Stanley Johnson suffered a groin injury and has been out since November 18. As a result, Oshae Brissett was called up from Toronto’s 905 G-League team. Johnson was expected to miss two weeks, although he wasn’t exactly playing full-time when healthy.

Patrick McCaw is also healing from knee surgery. He has only played in two games this year and there is currently no timetable for his return.

Toronto has been dominant without being fully healthy. So just imagine how good they’ll be when everyone returns to full strength.