Preview: Toronto Raptors vs Memphis Grizzlies – May 8th, 2021

Photo Credit: Justin Ford/USA Today Sports

After a crushing 131-129 overtime loss to the Wizards on Thursday, the Raptors will look to bounce back at home tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Toronto will try for the season sweep after defeating the Grizzlies 128-113 three months ago in Memphis. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet scored 32 each, while Norman Powell recorded 29, to lead the Raps to an 11-13 record at the time.

Since that game, Toronto has gone 16-27 and effectively saw an end to their playoff aspirations after the loss on Thursday. The Raptors sit four games back of the tenth seed with just five games left. With a loss tonight and a Wizards win over the Pacers, Toronto will be eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

The Raptors will be short handed again tonight as Kyle Lowry (rest) and VanVleet (hip) were ruled out. Chris Boucher, OG Anunoby and Yuta Watanabe will also remain sidelined as Nick Nurse experiments with more of their younger players. As a result, expect Malachi Flynn, DeAndre’ Bembry and Freddie Gillespie to see increased playing time tonight.

Without a full lineup, the Raptors will need to rely on Gary Trent Jr. and Siakam who is coming off a career night. Pascal set a career-high with 44 points on Thursday, while shooting over 60% and adding 11 rebounds.

The Grizzlies sit at 33-33 on the season and have their sights set toward the play-in tournament in the West. Led by former Raptor Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis has been one of the better rebounding teams this year, which has nicely complimented their balanced offense led by young star Ja Morant.

Valanciunas is averaging 16.7 points per game this year, while also recording 12.3 rebounds per game, third in the league.

While missing some time this year, Morant continues to dazzle the NBA with his special skill set. The second-year guard is averaging 19.4 points to go with 7.3 assists. Morant had a monster night on Wednesday, scoring 37 points and 10 assists against Anthony Edwards and the Timberwolves.

Canadian Dillon Brooks is the second leading-scorer on the Grizzlies (16.8 PPG) while Jaren Jackson Jr. should provide a spark. The recent first round pick will play in just his eighth game this season as the Grizzlies hope to have him at full-health for the postseason. In 7 games this year, Jackson has averaged 14.3 points.

Tip-off is set for 7:30PM EST on TSN.

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