Quick Reaction: Raptors: 111, Rockets: 118

16 mins read
TOR Raptors 111 Final
Box Score
118 HOU Rockets

P. Siakam22 MIN, 16 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 6-11 FG, 2-5 3FG, 2-4 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, 7 +/-

Very much the man early, as he found a spot-up shooter for an open (but missed) triple on Toronto’s first possession, and ran the floor for a transition dunk on the next possession. He missed plenty of 3s, but it was still good to see him launching without hesitation. He too easily drifted on the offense, letting others take control while he spaced to the corners, but that isn’t a problem in preseason. He started on Harden and had a lot of trouble offering any resistance, but he wasn’t alone there. Had trouble creating alone in the half-court.

O. Anunoby20 MIN, 2 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 3 STL, 1-5 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, -6 +/-

Though he fouled Russell Westbrook while taking a 3, he cut well and found himself open in the paint for a push shot. Anunoby’s skills are best used alongside more talented players, and he’s a great fit with the starters. He also had a nice dig into the post for a strip, and he had another impressive steal on the perimeter. His offense was a touch helter-skelter, and he couldn’t capitalize on a few drives into the paint. Was quiet for much of his time.

S. Ibaka18 MIN, 12 PTS, 8 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 5-9 FG, 0-1 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -2 +/-

Was a tad hesitant in getting out to the perimeter to contest Houston’s shooters, but Ibaka had a phenomenal move in the post for a fadeaway jumper. His defense was solid in the paint, and he ran in transition, both for dunks and to hit the offensive glass. He’s a known quality, and he was great fulfilling his role of scoring, energy, and defense.

F. VanVleet22 MIN, 10 PTS, 2 REB, 10 AST, 2 STL, 2-7 FG, 1-4 3FG, 5-6 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, 7 +/-

He had some up-and-down passing early, hitting some players in stride, but also turning over the ball looking for teammates in the corner. His ability to play the point guard position has clearly improved over the summer. He pushed the ball in transition, driving into the paint, and getting others going, limiting his turnovers to just his early two. He passed really well without dominating the ball and over-dribbling, which is fantastic to see. As dominant, without shooting well, as I’ve ever seen.

N. Powell22 MIN, 22 PTS, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 7-11 FG, 5-7 3FG, 3-3 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 7 +/-

Powell forced his offense early, driving into a crowd and getting rejected by Clint Capela. His shooting remained brilliant, as he nailed triples after triple. He won’t always shoot like he’s Steph Curry, and his decision-making on the dribble needs to improve. That being said, he did shoot like Steph Curry in this one, and his defense improved dramatically in the second half, so there’s really nothing about which to complain here.

M. Gasol18 MIN, 6 PTS, 6 REB, 1 AST, 3 STL, 1-4 FG, 0-2 3FG, 4-5 FT, 1 BLK, 3 TO, 2 +/-

He looked to pass on most possessions last postseason, so it was a surprise that he took multiple attempts early after he hit the floor in this preseason game. He shot well, though, and gave Toronto some offensive juice when nobody else could find the bottom of the basket. He had a perfect outlet pass to Anunoby, though it was dropped on the other end. He rebounded very well. His defense was fantastic. Altogether a great performance, really altering the way the team played when he was on the floor, and that doesn’t show up in the numbers. He didn’t do as much in the third quarter, but that was really just a function of Toronto’s show-me lineup.

P. McCaw17 MIN, 7 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 1-5 FG, 0-2 3FG, 5-6 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -5 +/-

He did a solid job guarding Harden on switches, although Harden still was able to score, but otherwise wasn’t too involved. He missed a spot-up 3 and a stepback 3. On bench units starved for scoring, McCaw offers little on the offensive end. He scored a few on free throws, and he had one nice pull-up jumper in a late-clock scenario.

M. Miller17 MIN, 8 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 2-4 FG, 2-4 3FG, 2-3 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -4 +/-

Checked in during the first quarter, and he immediately nailed a corner triple. He’s not guaranteed a roster spot, and Miller has a lot to play for. His game off the bounce really did show some improvement; he had an and-1 layup in the first game, and he had a few nice passes of the drive this morning. He hit another triple in the fourth when Houston declined to guard him. Through two games, he’s played about as well as can be expected, and Toronto has a tough choice with Miller’s contract about to guarantee at the start of the season.

T. Davis14 MIN, 7 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 3-8 FG, 1-2 3FG, 0-1 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, -2 +/-

His defense was more energetic than most of his teammates’. He handled the ball quite a bit and let others finish possessions. He blew a dunk in transition, although the burst was there for him to get open at the rim, and he drove for a layup a few possessions later. His shooting was improved on his 0-for showing in the first preseason game. Davis just offers so much skill, energy, and poise. He’s going to be awesome. He didn’t show as much in the fourth quarter, unable to lead the reserves to a clutch win, but that doesn’t invalidate his earlier performance alongside more established guys.

M. Thomas14 MIN, 4 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1-5 FG, 0-2 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -9 +/-

Launched an open triple within seconds after checking into the game, and it was the right shot, although he missed it. He was part of a lineup that played solid defense, which is a question mark with him, so it was good to see. He hit a floater out of the pick-and-roll, too. He turned over an attempt on a desperation 3 with under 30 seconds left.

D. Hernandez12 MIN, 6 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 2-4 FG, 0-1 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, -7 +/-

Some game time! He missed a layup, but then he made a few layups later. He’s still shaking off the rust after not playing last year, but he showed some burst and athleticism at the center spot. His best moment was dishing on the short roll to a cutting Chris Boucher. I see why the Raptors were so high on Hernandez.

C. Boucher9 MIN, 8 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 4-7 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 BLK, 0 TO, -10 +/-

He didn’t see time until the fourth quarter, which is I guess the reality of having both Ibaka and Gasol in the rotation, but it still sucks. Somehow, impossibly, the wasn’t super visible on the floor; he usually looks to shoot as much as possible, but he didn’t get as many looks as expected. His attempt numbers are inflated because of a series of offensive rebounds, but he did score well in a few minutes, especially for taking few shots. He did fall for a series of consecutive pump-fakes, which was funny, if nothing else.

S. Johnson9 MIN, 1 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-3 FG, 0-0 3FG, 1-2 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -7 +/-

Fouled Harden on a 3-point attempt immediately upon checking into the game, which is troublesome. Most of his value will come on the defensive end, which has to be a lot of pressure against a guy like Harden. But, hey, he forced a difficult contested floater from Harden on the next possession! He didn’t give enough on offense.

I. Taylor9 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 0-5 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -10 +/-

He didn’t see time until the fourth quarter, and he was fairly quiet. Mostly conceded the point guard duties to Davis — until Thomas replaced Davis late in the fourth — and even then didn’t dominate the ball. He airballed a 3 but stole the ball after.

R. Hollis-Jefferson8 MIN, 2 PTS, 2 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 1-2 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-2 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -6 +/-

Didn’t enter the game until the third quarter, and he bit on a pump-fake on the first defensive possession. He didn’t give much on offense, but he was part of a show-me group alongside McCaw, Thomas, Johnson, and Gasol. They didn’t score, like at all, but they almost held the fort with solid defense, so meh. Really he wasn’t put in a position to succeed, which I guess was the point of the unit; could anyone give Nurse something unexpected, from a playmaking standpoint? If anyone, it would have been Hollis-Jefferson, but it didn’t really happen.

O. Brissett8 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 0-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 10 +/-

He saw his first minutes in the second quarter alongside the starters, and he was less visible as a lower-usage option, which is a good thing alongside Toronto’s most talented guys. He also missed an uncontested dunk alone in transition, but he got the steal in the first place! So let’s give him a pass there. Honestly, there wasn’t enough to grade a performance, especially because he didn’t get any higher-usage time in the bench units of the second half.

Nick Nurse

I liked what I saw from Toronto. Their defense improved as the game went on, and the Raptors got a ton out of Fred VanVleet as a true, on-ball point guard. Nurse gave the second half to the deep bench, which was more difficult to watch, but was necessary for learning purposes. The Raptors didn’t win, but they still took plenty of information out of the game, which is the entire purpose of preseason.

Things We Saw

  1. On the whole, the Raptors’ team defense isn’t there at all early in the game. Defenders off the ball were frequently caught ball-watching, and help was late if it came at all. Rotations were almost the opposite of what we came to expect during the last playoff run. Against a team like Houston, that’s death. Nobody can guard James Harden alone, and Toronto left its primary defenders on an island. Bigs didn’t step up early, and wings didn’t tag rollers at all. It was pretty bad for the first quarter, especially.
  2. When did the defense improve? When Toronto’s bench guys, including Oshae Brissett and Terence Davis, hit the floor. They offered more energy, which makes sense in preseason, and they were far better at the system stuff. When Toronto’s bench guys settled the defense and got stops, the Raptors roared ahead and took the lead.
  3. It’s hard to tell what is the result of uninvolved preseason defense and what is the result of good play, but Toronto could have plenty of burst at the guard position this year. Fred VanVleet was terrific creating separation with his dribble and engaging the second line of defense, and Terence Davis had little trouble getting past his man, either. Alongside Kyle Lowry, Toronto should be set going forward when it comes to the ability to drive into defenses’ teeth and create shots for teammates.
  4. I completely understand the need to get a look at guys in preseason. The games don’t matter, and Toronto needs to know what it has from guys in the rotation. Can a guy like Pat McCaw or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson offer a little bit more high-usage creation? Given the reps, can they run the pick-and-roll and create a decent shot? They couldn’t in a six minute stretch to end the third quarter, but it was valuable information for Nick Nurse and the Raptors. It was tough to watch, but it was valuable information nonetheless.

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