Toronto’s impressive six-game win streak was halted with a loss against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Raptors starters were completely gassed as the game wore on, letting one of the worst defenses in the league prevent another prodigious Toronto offensive output.
Instead of helping the starters on a tough night, the Raptors bench mob were shook ones on court. The rotation ignored Mobb Deep’s advice of fully completing the job at hand, instead of employing half-measure solutions.
An easy schedule over the next week will help the Raps regain their clawhold on the race up the Eastern Conference ladder, while giving the bench rotation a chance to improve. The Raptors, as indicated by Sports Interaction and their game lines, will be favourites more often than not.
Bench Rotation Slows Raptors Momentum
Best case scenario for the Toronto Raptors involves a deep bench crew able to switch between different styles and sizes of basketball strategy. Over the past week, the bench crew haven’t supported the starters on a consistent basis, contributing to a disappointing loss against the undermanned Los Angeles Clippers.
Against L.A., C.J. Miles was the only source of inspiration off the bench, canning three of four three-point attempts for a total of 13 points. The rest of the reserves combined for four points on 2-14 shooting, leading to a -35 rating for the evening.
Toronto was at the end of three games in four nights on the road, and a small boost could’ve lifted the Raptors to an impressive seven-game win streak. Instead, the starters were too tired to earn a big enough lead to make up for a sluggish bench.
Norman Powell Struggles Mightily
Powell struggled horribly this week, finishing with a -35 over his last four games. This includes a -15 against the Clippers in less than twelve minutes on the floor, shooting 1-6 from the field.
During this slump, Powell averages a .353 FG%, missing seven consecutive three-point attempts over the last four games. Prior to this downturn, Norman scored 12.8 PPG in five games, with a .500 FG%, .400 3P% and an average of +7.8 per game.
Without angry Norm, the Raptors don’t have the type of bench depth that gives Toronto a fighting chance against the top teams in the association. Cynics might blame a shift to the bench for Powell’s inconsistency, but Norm’s a team-first type of baller known for a no-nonsense attitude, instead of a salty demeanor.
OG Anunoby An Indispensable Starter
Looks like the Raptors stole another solid player from the draft, as OG Anunoby continues to provide the type of all-court hustle which bridges the gap between the big men and backcourt of the Raptors. Over his past four games, he shot .522 from the field and .667 from three, averaging eight points per games, including an impressive 16-point outing against Phoenix.
Anunoby possesses great shooting splits, but OG’s game doesn’t typically show up on the scoresheet, other than his terrific plus/minus numbers. Last week, Anunoby earned +14.5 per game, including a +8 during his 26:23 on court against the Clippers. Somehow, OG created a positive influence on the game despite making a single field goal.
Toronto Raptors Trends This Week
The most recent loss against the Clippers certainly infuriates coach Casey, but the squad enjoys a relatively soft schedule over the next week, cushioning the fall with an extremely winnable trio of games.
Toronto now returns home, having beaten the Phoenix Suns in Arizona on Wednesday, December 13th. The Raptors were heavily favored on the road with scoring wiz Devin Booker out with an adductor injury, but things were tighter than they should have been.
Good fortune continues for the Raps against the Brooklyn Nets, who will travel north without Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell, completely draining the Nets backcourt depth on Friday, December 15th. Lowry and DeRozan should run riot against third string guards.
This week completes with a runback against the Sacramento Kings – yet another lottery game for Toronto. The Kings put up a fight, but the Raptors de-crowned Sacramento with a 15-point blowout in California. Expect another big win by the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre.
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