Tonight the Raptors 905 take on the Grand Rapids Drive in the first round of the G-League playoffs. Rounds are single elimination games, so expect fireworks from tip.
The 905 will be with their full contingent, including Raptors Chris Boucher and Malcolm Miller, as well as two-way star Jordan Loyd. Boucher and Loyd especially are G-League stars. Boucher has incredible averages of 27.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 4.1 blocks. He has a team-leading net rating of +8.4. Miller is a sweet shooter still shaking off rust from an early season injury, but he has averaged 11 points on 35.1 percent shooting from deep. Loyd, however, is probably the team’s best shot at G-League MVP. He has a real chance at the award, sporting averages of 22.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. He has played 40 games, 12 more than Boucher. His improvement throughout the season has been nothing short of remarkable, as he’s grown into a point guard with high level decision making, change of pace, and scoring skills.
The 905 are also stocked with electric scorers and shooters beyond the big two. Duane Notice is a local man who can heat up off the bench, especially creating space going to the rim. Josh Adams and Jordan Howard are microwave shooters, and Adams can also jump with anyone in the G-League. The 905 are also hoping NBA-level guard Wade Baldwin IV will play after suffering an injury in the 905’s season-ending home-and-home against the Lakeland Magic. Baldwin is yet another weapon on the stacked 905 roster, and he’s been leading the team in distance shooting at 43.8 percent. If he goes, he forms a G-League big three with Boucher and Loyd.
The Drive are no slouches. They’ve closed their season on a two-game winning streak, and have won 9-of-11. Over that stretch, two-way point guard Kailin Lucas has been dominant, averaging 25.5 points and 48.1 percent shooting from deep. He’s surrounded by a variety of streaky shooters, including former NBAers Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Whitehead. No word yet on whether they’ll be assigned, but Pistons players like Khyri Thomas, Bruce Bowen, and Henry Ellenson could fortify the Drive for the playoff run. Depending on whether the Drive boast their full NBA contingent, they will have the guns to compete with the favourite 905.
The teams split a two-game series this season. On December 2, the 905 won 106-91, and on December 14, the Drive topped the 905 110-105. However, neither game was very indicative of the current rosters; each game only saw the 905 dressing four players who are still earning time this late in March. The G-League changes quick, and new additions like Adams, Howard, Baldwin, Derek Cooke Jr., and others give the 905 weapons that the Drive haven’t yet seen.
The game tips at 8 pm ET at Mississauga’s Paramount Fine Foods Center. You can buy tickets online with a discount using the code REPUBLIC905. This could be the 905’s only home playoff game, as the remainder of the Eastern Conference playoffs will be away games unless there’s an upset across the bracket. Get out and see the 905 while you can.