Shorthanded Raptors prepare to close out first half

Team will be without six coaches, five players vs. Detroit
Posted at 3:48 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 18:02:52-05

TAMPA, Fla. — The Raptors will take the court shorthanded for a second straight game tonight when they host the Detroit Pistons. Head coach Nick Nurse, five assistants, and five players — including starters Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby — are all out of action due to the NBA's COVID-19 safety protocol procedures. Nurse and five assistants missed Friday's game against Houston, but assistant coach Sergio Scariolo stepped and led the Raptors to a 122-111 win over the Houston Rockets.

The Raptors had two more games postponed before being cleared to play Wednesday.

Scariolo, 59, is no stranger to the head coach's chair. He's the coach of the Spanish National Team, and he's been coaching for more than 25 years. He knows what he needs from the players who will be available tonight.

"The team can’t afford anybody to take a day off or to not really be 100% focused on the task on the floor," Scariolo said via Zoom. "Ready to give a contribution and help their teammates."

Tuesday night, the Raptors practiced for the first time in three days. General manager Bobby Webster watched practice, and he said the energy level is very high despite all of the adjustments and postponements.

"I think having everybody essentially quarantining or isolated in your room for three days is never fun," Webster said. "But I think from that point they were happy to see each other. Not a ton of socializing, but there was just a lot of energy out there."

The Raptors play in Boston tomorrow night before they hit the All-Star break. Webster couldn't offer specifics on who would be available when they return to action on March 11th against Atlanta, but he's happy the team gets to take a collective breath for a couple of extra days.

"Hopefully we get the benefit of having that time off, and having guys recharge," he said. "And some of our staff as well. Definitely a light at the end of the tunnel."

The Raptors (17-17) currently hold the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference standings.