Quick Reaction

Quick Reaction: Raptors 115, Suns 109

You didn’t miss anything. The game never happened.

Toronto 115 Final
Box Score
109 Phoenix

S. Ibaka34 MIN, 21 PTS, 13 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 8-11 FG, 3-3 3FG, 2-2 FT, 2 BLK, 0 TO, 18 +/-

Ibaka and Valanciunas being not just a passable pairing but individual terrors on offense of late has been really, really encouraging. Ibaka’s never lacked for confidence shooting, and when his offensive flow bleeds over into his defensive effort like this – especially on the boards – he looks every bit the player the Raptors thought they were acquiring. He’s been really good the past couple weeks.

O. Anunoby19 MIN, 7 PTS, 3 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 2-5 FG, 1-2 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 12 +/-

Looking to once again wrestle the plus-minus crown from VanVleet, Anunoby didn’t look like the player Casey suggested may be hitting the rookie wall here, one who wasn’t much of a factor in the last few games. It was on offense where he really popped, attacking a seam to draw a foul on one play and operating as a pick-and-roll ball-handler for a nifty reverse on another. Could have been a closing option; I’d guess the team was worried about him on a quicker guy like Daniels.

J. Valanciunas30 MIN, 20 PTS, 11 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 7-12 FG, 1-1 3FG, 5-8 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 16 +/-

It’s pretty hard to quibble with his game, even if his defense wasn’t quite as good as Monday or the last Suns meeting (and he still had the second-best D-Rating on the team). He was a huge presence on the glass, had important buckets inside, and had a terrific read on the final offensive rebound that effectively sealed the game (drawing a foul). You’ll take this from Valanciunas 82 times.

K. Lowry34 MIN, 12 PTS, 2 REB, 6 AST, 0 STL, 3-12 FG, 2-7 3FG, 4-4 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 12 +/-

The 3-point shot has gone back cold after a ludicrous hot stretch (2/15 the last two games), and for the first half, Lowry didn’t have much other than some nice setups. His defense was shaky through three quarters, too. It was really only the passing in the first and the bulk of the fourth where Lowry was Lowry. Oh, and he had Daniels 1-on-1 and threw his ass at him and backed him down for a bucket, the denied post position to Bender to force a turnover. Doesn’t make his whole game, but it was a very fun minute.

D. DeRozan37 MIN, 37 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 12-24 FG, 0-3 3FG, 13-15 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 18 +/-

The third quarter was all DeRozan, as he toyed with overmatched Suns defenders to the tune of 18 points (four off Lowry’s franchise record of 22 in a quarter). Looked like his night was done, got called back in, then forced a few ugly 2013-17 DeRozan late-game looks before finding a better decision-making balance. He was the entire offense outside of the starting bigs, and he played nice defense on Warren on the final possession.

F. VanVleet24 MIN, 5 PTS, 0 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 2-8 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -9 +/-

Hasn’t really had IT offensively the last few games – he can’t carry the bench offense, and Lowry and DeRozan defer to him to initiate a bit much in closing lineups. He has defensive value still, which is why he got the closing nod here (I’m assuming), though I would have gone a different route in this one.

J. Poeltl18 MIN, 4 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 2-6 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -10 +/-

He was getting out-muscled a little bit inside by Monroe and Len, and responded using his quickness advantage to make some nice defensive plays and grab a few of the usual savvy offensive rebounds. The finishing being off the last two games is probably a bit of regression after he started the year shooting 70 percent.

C. Miles17 MIN, 5 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 2-6 FG, 1-4 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -1 +/-

Didn’t have his shot falling, attacked a closeout well once, and otherwise wasn’t much of a factor. He can’t really carry those bench groups, and opponents have started selling out to push him far above the break, daring him to shoot long threes outside the corners if he’s going to beat them.

P. Siakam14 MIN, 4 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 2-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -12 +/-

Didn’t really do anything objectionable, and he hit the glass well, had a nice block, and helped force a turnover. Still, he was the first man pulled when things got shaky in the fourth. Part of why he’s had two middling games in a row might be that the bench isn’t getting as many stops, which is preventing him from getting out and running.

N. Powell10 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 0-5 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -14 +/-

Ever since his single dropped, Powell hasn’t really been the same. (The causation there may be off.) He’s pressing at both ends right now, forcing shots early in the clock and making turnovers that wouldn’t happen if he slowed down a beat. Once again had the worst plus-minus on the team, a whopping -14 in 10 minutes. When he rounds out of this, I think the whole bench might (or vice versa).

L. Brown2 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 0 +/-

Dude just keeps getting these 2-minute incomplete grades. At least he got a shot up this time, potentially killing my story on his historically low usage rate?

Dwane Casey

There’s really not a lot to be done when the bench doesn’t have it and he’s trying not to ride his stars too much, though you’d hope more staggering is coming on the weekend. Trusted Valanciunas to be on the floor late, which was a nice correction. VanVleet’s place there seems divisive and was clearly an offense-defense trade-off with Phoenix playing quicker guys. I’d really like to see Miles in that spot once. The last timeout was a really odd call, too.

Things We Saw

  1. It wasn’t exactly a rousing first quarter for the starting five, but they were solid to start the game again, which has probably happened enough now for this not to be a bullet point every game. They were a +3 in the first, looked good in a brief minute with Miles in there, were +5 late in the second, went +8 at the top of the third despite looking mostly disinterested. Their net rating on the year is up to +14.9 in 210 minutes, which ranks 6th among 25 groups that have played 150 minutes or more.
  2. The bench, on the other hand, probably warrants this regular bullet point once again. It was against Phoenix last week when they finally had a “bad” game, and they haven’t really been the same since. They were completely disjointed on offense, playing to a -5 at the top of the second quarter and squandering the entire lead over less than three minutes in the third (a 10-0 run). That put an unnecessary toll on the starters to close out a game they’d already mostly closed out in the third. And look, good teams generally win with their starters, anyway, but a mixture of regression, Delon Wright’s absence, and teams being a little better prepared for these players have the group struggling, especially relative to the ludicrous bar they set in the first 20 games.
  3. You’ve heard it probably too many times by now, but the Raptors have the easiest travel schedule in the league from here. No more four-game road trips, no games more than one time zone away, and more home teams remaining than anyone (if I recall). That’s certainly a thing, just don’t expect them to be without lulls or bad nights. Because…yeah.
  4. Is anyone else glad to be done this road trip? I can’t imagine the Raptors will play an uglier stretch of four games…until the first round of the playoffs, AMIRIGHT? (Seriously, these games feel like they’ve made us all a little crazy of late.)

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