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Post-Game

Raptors wrap west coast preseason swing with loss to Trail Blazers

Well, I hope you didn’t stay up late for that.

The Toronto Raptors fell 106-101 to the Portland Trail Blazers in a typically sloppy affair to slip to 1-2 on the preseason.

DeMar DeRozan and C.J. Miles did not play, both getting nights off for rest. #AnunobyWatch continues as the rookie wing did not play either.

Like the second Hawaiian game, this was a great example of why the NBA trimmed the preseason. The contest felt more like noise than any kind of signal because there were so many green or sub-NBA level players on the court.

There’s a few takeaways, so let’s dive into them now.

Wing depth remains a concern

An early season injury to C.J. Miles or Norm Powell would spell disaster for the Raptors. Really, we knew that by looking at the names in the depth chart, but seeing is believing. Bruno Caboclo started in this game, and he struggled to keep up with the pace of play. Like the first game, Bruno couldn’t make shots, going 0-4 to bring him to 2-15 on the preseason.

Alfonzo McKinnie’s minutes were really encouraging. He hit some threes, he’s got a smooth jump shot and moves like an NBA athlete. He’s intriguing as a wing option, but the preseason context matters and that’s why I’m waiting on saying he could step in to regular season minutes.

Powell, who put pen to paper on a four-year $42 million contract ahead of the game, had moments of expected explosiveness, but wasn’t efficient from the floor.

(I would also like to wish Andy Rautins the best of luck in Europe this season and hope Dwane Casey does not play him again. He can’t turn the corner on anyone and he’s a sieve defensively.)

Frontcourt play: mixed bag

Jonas Valanciunas has impressed in preseason. On multiple occasions, I’ve wondered about JV’s role in the modern NBA, but he’s looked better in the preseason. He’s moving the ball better and feeling the game a bit more than we’ve seen in seasons past. This didn’t show in the box score — he finished with zero assists — but there were a couple of moments where JV made the right pass and the guy didn’t make the shot or the pass was deflected.

His defence remains a liability and there’s really no reason in delving into his struggles on that end. He’s better offensively so far, and that’s a positive sign.

And I’m absolutely not someone who puts a ton of stock in what I see in preseason. However, I do get worried when I see fears actualize themselves. One of those fears: Serge Ibaka’s fading athleticism. There was some commentary about it last year before he was traded to Toronto, and Ibaka looked sluggish tonight. Let’s hope it was just a bit of disinterest on his part because watching 82 games of that Ibaka would be a real struggle.

Bebe Nogueira was the first centre off the bench tonight but it was Jakob Poeltl who made an impact. Poeltl finished with 10 points on 4-4 shooting, with most of those coming out of rolls to the basket. He’s got great hands and continues to show touch around the rim. I’m buying Jak stock, though he’s still getting bullied in the paint when defensive rebounding.

Pascal Siakam earns a quick shoutout for his ability to contain guys in the pick and roll. He’s got quick feet, uses length well and starting to settle down a bit. Siakam just needs reps.

Hope you like threes

The Raps shot 43 threes in the first game, 36 in the second and 44 tonight. The offence done changed.

Problem: Toronto hit 13-44 from three tonight, good for 29.5%. I’ll say this: Toronto’s style makes for a different viewing experience compared to recent seasons. I’m not sure how I feel about it, though. Watching guys who aren’t great three point shooters just get shots up is a bit frustrating because it feels like a concession from the offence.

Granted, Miles is a good three-point shooter and he didn’t play, and guys who won’t be on the roster or play meaningful roles logged significant minutes tonight, so the percentages aren’t reflective of who will be getting shots in the season. I think the three-point attempt number is something to continue to monitor because it’s a high number for any team, let alone a team like Toronto with a dearth of shooters.

The Raptors make their 2017-18 home debut on Oct. 10 against the Detroit. Who will play? Who knows! Tip-off is 7 p.m. Only two more preseason games to go.

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