Quick Reaction: Raptors 88, Clippers 98

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May 7, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) drives to the basket in the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in game four of the second round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
TOR Raptors 88 Final
Box Score
98 LA Clippers

P. Siakam44 MIN, 16 PTS, 10 REB, 6 AST, 0 STL, 6-17 FG, 1-6 3FG, 3-6 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, -6 +/-

Siakam’s motor simply doesn’t stop. He followed up on a 42 minute night by logging 43 minutes tonight. He wasn’t efficient and the Clippers sent plenty of defensive help Siakam’s way, but I loved how aggressively he went downhill whenever the Clippers sagged on him with a single defender.

O. Anunoby2 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -4 +/-

This sucks. Anunoby exited the floor two minutes into the game due to an errant Kawhi Leonard elbow. Let’s hope that he returns soon.

M. Gasol33 MIN, 8 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 3-8 FG, 2-4 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 BLK, 3 TO, -2 +/-

Gasol isn’t going to put up twenty points per game anymore, but the offence did flow well through the Spaniard at the elbow. He wasn’t as hesitant from beyond the arc, instead either making an assertive pass or shooting the ball. Ivica Zubac did get the better of Gasol a handful of times on the glass, but his unheralded team defence was apparent all night.

F. VanVleet45 MIN, 14 PTS, 2 REB, 8 AST, 3 STL, 6-20 FG, 1-6 3FG, 1-2 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, -14 +/-

It started so well for VanVleet, who instigated numerous turnovers in the first half to get Toronto in transition. However, fatigue and the heavy workload clearly began to show as he struggled to get to the rim as effectively in the fourth quarter. VanVleet may be getting pushed to the limits of his offensive capabilities, but he continues to show that he one of the league’s best perimeter defenders. Hovered around Kawhi all night and even managed to pickpocket him a few times.

N. Powell37 MIN, 15 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 5-12 FG, 1-5 3FG, 4-5 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, -18 +/-

Such an aggressive performance from Powell tonight. Sure, there were some head-scratching plays sprinkled in, but that was to be expected given the massive usage spike. Unfortunately, Toronto aren’t going to win when Powell, Siakam, and VanVleet combine to be 3 for 17 from deep.

R. Hollis-Jefferson29 MIN, 9 PTS, 9 REB, 1 AST, 3 STL, 4-11 FG, 0-0 3FG, 1-2 FT, 1 BLK, 3 TO, -1 +/-

Stepped in for Anunoby early in the game and picked up the Kawhi assignment. Hollis-Jefferson was heroic on the defensive end, causing turnovers all over the place. He slipped into cracks well from the dunker spot (although he unfortunately missed a couple looks around the rim) and showed a few nifty passes. After tonight’s performance, Hollis-Jefferson will no doubt be in the rotation regardless of the team’s injury status.

C. Boucher22 MIN, 13 PTS, 5 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 5-10 FG, 3-5 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 BLK, 1 TO, -2 +/-

Boucher needs to play at the Staples Center every night! What a scintillating performance from the Canadian. Nailed his outside shot, had a brilliant move to the rim, and was flying around the court to secure rebounds. Boucher has showed that he can hang as a power forward and even as a centre with the right personnel on the floor. I think the offensive putback late, followed by stuffing Harrell at his apex gave Louis Zatzman a heart attack.

T. Davis17 MIN, 5 PTS, 1 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 2-4 FG, 1-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 2 +/-

This guy just brings an unquantifiable energy to the team. Davis had his hands full with an especially tough defensive assignment on Lou Williams. Davis got fooled a few times, but more than held up and was the only Raptor with a positive net rating on the night.

M. Thomas11 MIN, 8 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 3-3 FG, 2-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -5 +/-

Yeah, this guy is automatic from distance. It’s especially impressive that Thomas is immediately ready to fire away the moment he steps on the court. Those short bursts are crucial to help keep the Raptors afloat as secoring is at a premium. Got lost a few times defensively due to Williams’ pick-and-roll mastery, but Thomas has been better than advertised on defence.

Nick Nurse

There’s not much more Nurse could do in this one. The gameplan on Kawhi was effective for most of the night, his bench decisions were nearly all rewarded with quality play, and the undermanned Raptors were in touching distance late. Unfortunately Toronto ran out of steam and couldn’t muster the final few places necessary to get out of Los Angeles with two victories.

Things We Saw

  1. Clamps on Kawhi: Anunoby was supposed to get the Kawhi assignment, but Leonard’s elbow decided otherwise. Hollis-Jefferson was immense getting into Kawhi on-ball (similar to his workrate on LeBron last night). However, this wasn’t a one-man job; VanVleet and others were savvy with the timing of their double teams on Leonard. The team defence forced Leonard into every single one of those nine turnovers.
  2. Running on fumes: There was a lingering sense that Toronto wouldn’t be able to match their otherworldly intensity the night prior against the Lakers, but the Raptors were equally as locked in for three quarters. Unfortunately, that final stanza was just a step too far. Toronto could only score 10 points in the fourth quarter.
  3. Next man up: Not only did Anunoby leave the game early, but both Powell and Hollis-Jefferson looked to have picked up knocks during the encounter. Both stayed in the game, so the injury report will give us some rare good news.

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