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The Canadian Press

Undermanned Raptors, missing players and coaches, return to action against Detroit

TAMPA, Fla. — The all-star break can’t come soon enough for the undermanned Toronto Raptors, who went into Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Pistons missing five players, head coach Nick Nurse and six of his staff. Assistant coach Sergio Scariolo was in charge for the second straight outing. The Raptors were without starters Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby as well as Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw due to the league’s health and safety protocols. Siakam, VanVleet and Anunoby had accounted for 1,603 points this season, 42 percent of Toronto’s total this season prior to Wednesday. The Raptors started Kyle Lowry, Terence Davis, Norman Powell, Yuta Watanabe and Aron Baynes. Jalen Harris and Donta Hall were summoned from the Raptors 905 G-League squad. Scariolo said they arrived “literally one minute” before the team practice Tuesday. “We’ll manage the rotation tonight the best we can,” Scariolo said prior to Wednesday’s game. The Raptors are scheduled to play at Boston on Thursday, with the league taking a break after that for Sunday’s all-star game in Atlanta. Toronto is set to resume play March 11 against visiting Atlanta. It has been a whirlwind for the Raptors since they defeated Houston 122-111 on Friday without Siakam, Nurse and five members of his staff. Sunday’s game against Chicago was postponed and the matchup with Detroit pushed back a day to Wednesday. A sixth member of the staff was added to the absentees list Wednesday. Scariolo, assistant coach Jim Sann, Mark Tyndale (assistant video coordinator/player development) and Jamaal Magloire (basketball development consultant) manned the Toronto bench against Houston. The Toronto coaching staff was already shorthanded given Chris Finch quit the team to become head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Adrian Griffin, Jama Mahlalela and Jon Goodwillie make up the remainder of Nurse’s coaching staff. Speaking to the media Tuesday evening, GM Bobby Webster said the good news was his team had had multiple days of no new cases. Still, those players available weren’t able to get together until Wednesday afternoon for a film session and walkthrough, having to wait until their morning COVID-19 tests came back negative. Scariolo said the coaches met virtually prior to the game. Pistons coach Dwane Casey, who went 320-238 in seven seasons at the Raptors’ helm, praised the league and players for the way they have handled playing in a pandemic. He said his team prepared for the undermanned Raptors the same as always, saying the likes of Lowry, Powell and Chris Boucher weren’t going to change their game. “The personnel may change a little bit but they have a distinct style of play that’s there, that’s been there a long time,” he said prior to the game. The NBA, meanwhile, reported Wednesday that of the 456 players tested for COVID-19 since Feb. 24, seven new players had returned confirmed positive tests. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press

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