The Toronto Raptors will try to put the advantage back into home court Tuesday night when they play the Memphis Grizzlies for the second time in a week.
The Raptors’ record at home dropped to 2-7 after their 109-97 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, defeated the visiting Sacramento Kings 128-101 on Sunday without Ja Morant, who has a sprained knee.
The Grizzlies had dropped their two previous games, including a 126-113 loss to the visiting Raptors on Wednesday.
After going 2-4 on the road trip, the Raptors continued their puzzling poor form at home Sunday in the opener of a seven-game homestand. It did not help that they were without OG Anunoby (hip pointer), Gary Trent Jr. (calf) and Khem Birch (knee).
“Learning to protect your home court is something that feels so normal and natural until it’s not,” said Fred VanVleet, who scored 27 points for the Raptors on Sunday. “You have a lot of guys who don’t really understand what that means, have to learn the dynamic between the crowd and understanding this has been one of the best home-court advantages in the last how many years — five years, for sure, maybe more than that — and we have to get back to that and we have to start to build that again.”
“I thought the guys played really hard,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “Some of the guys that we haven’t seen that much of — Yuta (Watanabe), Isaac (Bonga), obviously Justin (Champagnie), I thought they went in there and did a good job.
“They tried pretty hard, there’s just a couple of things you can’t overcome there. Thought it was a good effort, just didn’t bounce our way.”
Anunoby, who is averaging 20.1 points per game, has missed six straight games. It had been expected that he could return by the end of the trip.
“I don’t really have a timeline, but it looks like it’s a problem,” Nurse said.
MRIs have shown no serious damage, but there is still considerable soreness.
The only player Nurse did not use Sunday was Chris Boucher.
“First, he’s got to handle it like a pro,” Nurse said. “When he gets his chance, he has to be a little more consistent. I mean, he’s not the only one that needs to come off the bench and play more consistently. That doesn’t mean scoring or anything. That’s just being engaged and playing hard and rebounding and blocking shots and things he should be able to bring most nights.”
The Grizzlies responded with a solid effort against Sacramento after learning that Morant will be out for about two weeks.
Dillon Brooks led Memphis with 21 points. In his first seven games back from a fractured left hand, he has had four 20-point games.
With Morant out, the Grizzlies started Tyus Jones at point guard. Jones had six points and eight assists on Sunday.
Desmond Bane will be the No. 2 ball handler after Jones. Bane scored 18 points on Sunday.
“I think this was a perfect game to go back on and see what we did and what was beneficial,” said Grizzlies reserve guard De’Anthony Melton, who scored 14 points. “It’s always a blessing that we had to move the ball and we are all sharing and everybody’s getting involved.”