In what has become a customary precaution, star forward Kawhi Leonard sat out of the Raptors' 126-101 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday in what the team has deemed "load management" on the second leg of back-to-back games.
That customary precaution could soon be coming to an end.
As indicated in multiple reports, Toronto head coach Nick Nurse shared that he believes Leonard will soon be ready to play on both nights of a back-to-back: "I think we are there. I think, after we get here to the new year, we'll be there."
After Sunday, the 27-year-old has missed nine of the Raptors 35 games so far, and the team holds a record of 7-2 without its leading scorer. Of his nine absences, five have come in back-to-backs while the other four games were missed due to other minor injuries.
In San Antonio last season, Leonard missed 73 regular-season games and the entirety of the postseason with right quadriceps tendinopathy.
The two-time Defensive Player of the Year has returned to his peak form this season in Toronto, as he is on pace for a career year with averages of 26.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists through 26 games.
The Raptors, who have been plagued with injury for the past few games, return to action on Thursday, Dec. 27 when they travel to Miami to take on Dwyane Wade and the Heat.
Toronto's next back-to-back does not come until the team plays in Milwaukee on Sunday, Jan. 6 before returning home on Jan. 7 to host the Indiana Pacers.