In the midst of an embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Serge Ibaka was ejected for initiating a fight against Cavs forward, Marquese Chriss. For his role in the debacle, Ibaka received a 3 game suspension while Chriss will only miss 1 game. Check out below to see how Serge’s suspension will affect upcoming Raptors games against the Lakers, Pistons, and Knicks.
Cavaliers forward Marquese Chriss has struggled since entering the NBA, failing to find any sort of consistency, resulting in him suiting up for multiple different teams. He’s developed a reputation as a bit of a punk, making opposing players distasteful towards him.
Then there’s Serge Ibaka, an established NBA veteran who is no stranger to getting in fights during a game, being suspended twice in the 2017 season. Ibaka doesn’t take kindly to cheap play, taking exception a hard fall after being fouled by Chriss earlier in the game. His frustration ultimately led to him approach Chriss from behind, try to grab his neck, and punch him in a short sequence of events. Because of his history with fighting, Ibaka was punished more severely.
As Chriss will only miss one game and is not much of a contributor for the league-wide 3rd-worst Cavs, I won’t discuss the ramifications of his suspension. Ibaka is a key contributor for the Raptors, starting more often than not, so his absence of 3 games is more significant. Ibaka is averaging 15.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game on 52% shooting in 28 minutes per game.
Next 3 for Toronto
Fortunately for Toronto, Ibaka’s 3 game suspension couldn’t have come at a better time. With their next three games against the Lakers, Pistons, and finally the Knicks, they really only have one team to watch out for.
Home Game, March 14th vs. Los Angeles Lakers (31-36)
The Raptors will host a depleted Lakers squad in Toronto, where the Raptors are an impressive 27-7. The Lakers are 12-20 on the road, and have shut down Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball for the season with different injuries. Add in various ailments to Lance Stephenson and Tyson Chandler, the Lakers barely have enough players to surround Lebron with, let enough compete to actually win a game. The Raptors will cruise in this game without Ibaka.
Road Game, March 17th @ Detroit Pistons (34-32)
This game is important for Detroit, so they’ll be hungry for a win here. The Pistons are alone at 7th in the Eastern Conference, but are just a ½ game behind the Brooklyn Nets for the 6th seed. A general consensus for Eastern Conference teams is to avoid the 7th and 8th seeds so you don’t play Milwaukee or Toronto in the first round. Detroit needs to secure the 6th seed, requiring a win against the Raptors to help to do so.
The Raptors are 21-13, a very respectable margin, but Detroit is similarly 21-13 when playing at home. The Pistons pose a genuine threat to Toronto, already leading the season series against the Raptors, 2-0.
Throw in the fact that Detroit has won 12 of their last 15 games, including a 112-107 victory against the Raptors on March 3rd, the Pistons are a much scarier team than their record indicates. Toronto has been a hard team to bet against this season, but March 17th against the Pistons very well may be a good day to do so. Expect Detroit to pull away in a tightly-contested matchup, resulting in the only loss during Ibaka’s absence.
Home Game, March 18th vs. New York Knicks (13-55)
The Knicks record alone should serve as an indicator as how this game will go. New York is 7-29 in games played on the road, while the Raptors are 27-7 at home. The Knicks have lost 7 games in a row, and have only won 6 games since November 25th. That’s more than 3 months of solid basketball. The Raptors could rest Kawhi and still win this game without an issue. The Raptors win this game without a flicker of a doubt.