Photo credit: Trung Ho/trungho.ca
Raptors 905 113 Erie Bayhawks 124 | Box Score
Two-ways: Chris Boucher (905); Jaylen Adams, Alex Poythress (Bayhawks)
Chris Boucher is officially not enough to win a game without a point guard setting him up. The Raptors 905 124-113 loss to the Erie Bayhawks was defined by ill-advised, one-on-one offence from the home team, and brilliant distance shooting from the opposing squad. This one proved that Boucher may be putting up more ridiculous numbers, but Jordan Loyd may be more important to the success of the team.
Boucher finished with 32 points, 17 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks, and 2 steals. The stat line felt empty. He was a -12 in the game, which was third-lowest on the squad. It took him 31 shots to reach his point total, and he finished 0-for-7 from deep. He spent much of the game isolating and driving into thickets of defenders.
“We didn’t have a rhythm offensively, which meant that [Boucher] had to create some stuff on his own,” said coach Jama Mahlalela after the game. “It’s also what he’s elite at doing, his ability to break off one-on-one and take it at opposing 5s is what makes him really special. Some of those are scripted, and what we want him doing, but maybe a few too many and not enough where we got more people touching it, and then ending in an action with him going downhill at the rim.”
In the first half, the team spent too much time trying to force the ball to Boucher and failing. When they stayed within the flow of the offence, the 905 were playing well. Duane Notice scored nicely from the inside and out, as he even opened the score-sheet for the 905 with a step-back triple. He’s best as a secondary or tertiary scorer at this level, and he’s somewhat underqualified as the primary scorer from the guard position. Though Notice played well here, the return of Loyd will help Notice’s effectiveness as much as Boucher’s going forward.
The 905 half-court defence was elite early on, forcing tough looks or turnovers whenever they had a chance to dig in. Erie shot a variety of midrange jumpers early, and the 905 were terrific at cleaning their own glass. Boucher especially was great when he ate defensive rebounds, as his ability to drive around centers who weight approximately 60 pounds more than himself is much easier in transition.
Erie instead found much of their offence in transition or semi-transition. The 905 turned the ball over a number of times looking for Boucher, especially on poor pass placement from Deng Adel. When Boucher rolled after setting screens, guards had trouble finding Boucher with an advantage in the paint. Adel and others also had trouble creating space off the dribble, which meant that the 905 couldn’t manipulate defences enough to create space for shooters.
Of course, much of the problem lay in personnel availability. With Loyd up with the parent club, the Raptors started newly signed Jordan Howard at point guard. Howard is a shooter, but he’s undersized for the point guard position in the G-League, and he frequently has trouble seeing over defenders’ hands to make the correct reads. Without an athleticism advantage, he had trouble creating an advantage and drawing extra defenders.
As a result of the 905’s early struggles, the Bayhawks feasted when playing with a higher pace. They hit eight 3s in just the first quarter, and a variety of their shots came on open looks after just a few passes in the open court. In one particularly egregious moment, after a missed Rodney Pryor free throw, Erie immediately hit ahead to Jaylen Adams, who canned a triple before the shot clock had even hit 20.
“We’ve really emphasized being in our gaps, so we’re going to give up some open 3s,” said Howard. “We didn’t think that could kill us, and in the second half we made more of a run, because they didn’t hit as many. The first half, they were just hitting shots.”
There were positives. A flying Boucher block in a close out against a shooter led to a Howard corner triple for the 905. A Boucher steal moments later resulted in a full-extension alley-slam assisted by Howard. Greatly as a result of the play, Howard described Boucher after the game as the most athletic teammate with whom he’s ever played.
“With his athleticism, his ability, he’s a special player. It was great playing with him. It was my first time playing with him,” Howard noted.
The 905 closed the gap slightly in the second half behind improved play from their guards. Duane Notice scored in the halfcourt on a few strong finishes over length, and Jordan Howard began hitting some midrange jumpers when his defender sunk off to double Boucher on the roll.
“We didn’t know what we had with Jordan Howard,” said Mahlalela after the game. “We’re sort of figuring it out and understanding who he was as a guard for us. There’s some definite moments where he can handle and create some offence for us, which is great to see. I thought Duane had a breakout game. I was really proud of his attacks, his 3-point shooting, and his ability to get into the paint and finish.”
Adel hit a few jumpers of his own in the second half, including a pair of triples. None of it was enough to bring the 905 back into the game. Even as the 905 ran the Bayhawks off the line in the second half, Erie’s inside game allowed them to ultimately extend the league. When the 905 ran shooters off the line, 905 defenders dutifully stepped up to help, and Bayhawks’ cutters flew in for dunks.
Erie made 18 3s, and the 905 made 7. That difference was enough to decide the contest, but that wasn’t the only difference that played to Erie’s advantage. It’s easy to say that the Bayhawks had a hot shooting game, and that does partially explain this loss. Still, the 905 couldn’t create in the half-court, and their struggles unleashed Erie’s own transition game. The Bayhawks created countless uncontested layups and dunks. If you took transition and semi-transition out of the game, the 905 probably would have been competitive in this one. As it was, they didn’t have the horses to keep up.
- Boucher is a unique talent, to be sure, but this was a subpar outing by his standards. Boucher doesn’t have the chops to create his own offence for 48 minutes, and he spent much of the game isolating from behind the perimeter. He has a solid jumper, but he’s no James Harden when it comes to pulling up from deep after several dribbles. He didn’t make a 3, and it took him 31 shots to hit 32 points. Much of this isn’t directly on Boucher’s shoulders. His teammates need to put him in better positions to succeed, and they need to be able to draw the defence and hit Boucher with a space advantage. That didn’t happen. Still, Mahlalela was definitive before the game that Boucher has to figure out those types of struggles: “I think that’s part on him, in terms of just being a consistent player, and playing the same way regardless of who’s around you. That’s the same lesson that he takes to the NBA with him.”
- Other player notes:
- Josh Howard is a new addition, and this was only his third game in a 905 uniform. He’s massively undersized, and even though he’s a try-hard on defence, it’s usually not enough to positively impact plays. He’s billed as a shooter, but he only shot 1-for-8 from deep. He had some slick passes, including a gorgeous dime to Boucher on a slipped screen. His midrange game is impressive, and he’s able to create his own offence more than most 905 players. Still, that he’s the 905’s best option at point guard right now shows that the team is struggling at the position.
- Coach Mahlalela said before the game that Adel is at his best going downhill: “when he’s aggressive, he’s really good. When he tries to get downhill, and tries to get to the rim, that’s when everything else starts to just flow for him. His jumpshot becomes better, his defence becomes more engaged.” He struggled to create with the dribble, and he didn’t get downhill all game. He finished with six turnovers.
- Once again this year, Raptors Republic readers will be able to buy discounted tickets to 905 games. The code REPUBLIC905 will get you a discount on Raptors 905 tickets using this link: https://oss.ticketmaster.com/aps/acc/EN/promotion/home