Final Score | Raptors 905 109, Wisconsin Herd 115 | Box Score
Two Ways: Shamorie Ponds (905), Cameron Reynolds (Herd)
Assignees: Dragan Bender (Herd)
Out: Matt Morgan (905), Dewan Hernandez (905), Oshae Brissett (905), Sagaba Konate (905), Justin Reyes (905), Frank Mason (Herd), Trevor Lacey (Herd), Jaylen Adams (Herd)
The first road game of the season ended in a loss for the Raptors 905. Despite heading into the fourth quarter with an 8 point lead, the 905 were outscored 38 to 11 in the final twelve minutes of play.
Tired legs and a thin bench for the 905, contributed to the loss, as two-way player Shamorie Ponds left the game with an apparent thigh injury with 26 seconds left in the third quarter, leaving only two possible substitutions for the remainder of the game. Prior to the injury, the 905 were already missing Matt Morgan, Justin Reyes, and Sagaba Konate to injuries, while two-way players Dewan Hernandez and Oshae Brissett traveled to Dallas with the Toronto Raptors. Duane Notice, who had come off the bench in the home-opener, played a total of 42 minutes, with Devin Robinson and Paul Watson Jr. coming in closely behind at 36 and 38 minutes, respectively.
- Devin Robinson is a machine. On a team with only 8 players, Robinson did not appear to be experiencing any fatigue, as 12 of his 40 (!) points came in the fourth quarter. A sluggish start from the 905 was worrisome, but Robinson’s energy quickly turned the game around, and throughout all four quarters, Wisconsin did not have an answer for the big man.
- Chemistry. When shots weren’t falling for the Raptors throughout the first, Jama Mahlalela and company, realizing that Robinson had a hot hand, chose to keep the ball in his possession. When Duane Notice saw that Devin Robinson was making the largest impact on the game, rather than driving through the lane in traffic, he gave a behind the back drop-pass to Robinson, who finished with a slam, giving the Raptors their first double-digit lead of the night. The ball movement between Notice, Watson, Ennis, and Evans was a clear indication of a squad ready and willing to play unselfish basketball. Between the four of them, they accounted for 28 of the team’s 33 assists. After a pass from Ennis forced Robinson to shoot a jumper from inside the arc and miss, Ennis realized that of all the spots Robinson was hot from during the game, this wasn’t one of them. On the next possession, rather than attempting to run the same play, Tyler waited for Devin to place himself under the basket before attempting the hand-off, this time resulting in a made basket for Robinson and an assist for Ennis.
- Forced turnovers. Within the first minute of the game, Toronto were able to trap both the primary ball handler and the player anticipating the pass. The Herd won the game, but accumulated 24 turnovers compared to the Raptors’ 14.
- Complacency. The 905 appeared too comfortable with a seven point lead in the second quarter. Shamorie Ponds began to play too relaxed defence, slacking off of his man, creating opportunities for the opposition that should not have occurred. At one point, Notice was driving to the basket, and not a single Toronto player was attempting to help; not, by setting a screen, anticipating a pass, or getting into position for an offensive rebound. Notice was then stripped of the ball by D.J. Hogg, leading to a Toronto turnover.
- Finishing. When shots weren’t falling, the most logical next move would be to get into position under the basket to ensure an offensive rebound. Unfortunately for the 905, the rebounding wasn’t there. Only 9 of the 38 total rebounds came from off the glass for Toronto, compared to 15 of Wisconsin’s 60. Having Dewan Hernandez would have been beneficial for the 905, not only because of his 5 offensive rebounds in game one, but also so the other players could rest.
- Defensive Lapses and An Unwillingness to Switch. Duane Notice defending Dragan Bender was always going to be a size mismatch. Rather than switching a larger defender onto Bender, the Raptors continued to have Duane guarding him, allowing him to drive and shoot on nearly every possession. More often than not, Notice was left to guard two players at once with no help. While he is the team’s best defender, he is not their only defender.
Following the loss, the 905 will travel to Maine to take on the Red Claws Sunday in Crustacean Nation.
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