Final Score | Raptors 905 101, Greensboro Swarm 108 | Box Score
Two Ways: Paul Watson Jr. (905), Kobi Simmons (Swarm), Ray Spalding (Swarm)
Inactive: Oshae Brissett (905), Justin Reyes (905), Josh Perkins (Swarm), Josh Dawson (Swarm), Max Montana (Swarm), Demajeo Wiggins (Swarm)
Another close game was decided in the final minutes for the Raptors 905, as they fell to the Greensboro Swarm, 101-108. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, as the 905 spent the majority of the game with the lead, but late game execution still remains a problem. Henry Ellenson, in his first game with the 905 put up a team-high 25 points, but his efforts were not enough to contain the Swarm, giving them their 6th win of the season.
Communication: The 905’s ability to communicate on the floor is deserving of a MaFuzzy Chef’s kiss. It was perfect. Henry Ellenson, who had only joined the team for one hour of shoot-around prior to starting the game, was directed by Tyler Ennis on where to be and what to do on the floor. The wings improved their screening, allowing Ennis to split a double-team and float to the basket like a butterfly to the basket. At any whistle or any timeout, the teammates were speaking to each other, with the longer-tenured players coaching the new guys, or players on the floor relaying messages from the coaches to the others who were out of earshot. Toronto finished with 13 turnovers to the Swarm’s 16, and communication is to thank for that.
Rebounding: Rebounding, particularly on the defensive end, has been an issue for the 905. The addition of Henry Ellenson appeared to rectify this situation, as he accumulated 11 defensive rebounds in his 905 debut, and 15 of the 905’s 54 total rebounds.
Duane Notice: If I were at all talented with PhotoShop, I would include a picture of “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” but superimpose Duane Notice’s head and call it “How Duane Got His Minutes Back.” For the last two games, Notice had been a DNP- Coach’s decision. This wasn’t due to performance, but just the result of actually having a full team available. Still, Notice was always the first one up in the huddle, showing no signs of frustration at his lack of playing time, and encouraging his teammates in the way that a good Canadian G-League veteran should. On the outside, Duane was content in his role as a motivator instead of a player, but on the inside, he was waiting patiently, and using the unintentional slight as fuel. Losing the explosiveness that Justin Anderson brought to the game was a concern, but in his 19 and a half minutes, Notice put those worries to rest. Checking in at the tail end of the first quarter, Notice’s first task was to guard Charlotte Hornets assignee, Caleb Martin. If Caleb Martin didn’t already have a twin brother, he would have one in Duane, and they would be conjoined. Notice’s defence on Martin was superb, poking the ball away for a steal to Jawun Evans who then kicked it out to Nicholas Baer for a 3-point attempt. He defended Kobi Simmons with the same determination, and Simmons finished with 4 of the Swarm’s 16 turnovers, and 3 personal fouls. Offensively, Notice did what he always does: he got his team involved. A frustrated Sagaba Konate was having difficulties at both ends of the floor, but when Notice was open from the arch, he instead passed to Sagaba, who was posted in the paint, to get him on the board. It coud have been Duane Notice’s buzzer beating 3-pointer that made him a standout in this game. Or it could have been his exposure of Ray Spalding, holding the two-way player to only 8 points. Maybe it was his out of bounds save of a pass from Nicholas Baer, and immediately rebounding Baer’s shot under the basket. It could have been his own 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. But it was the same thing he brings every time he steps on the floor; his inclusiveness. In a league where every single player is vying for the spotlight in attempt to make an NBA roster, Notice approaches every game with a team first mentality. At just 25 years old, any NBA team should jump at the opportunity to sign someone in their prime that already possesses a veteran mindset.
Happy Birthday, Here’s 15 Points: Michael Bethea Jr. turned 25 on game day, and dropped 15 points like it was nothing. He shot 5 of 8 from beyond the 3-point line, and did not commit a single foul. He’s here and he’s perfect. Sean Woodley called him “Michael Birthdea Jr.” on the air and I am kicking myself for not thinking of it first.
Limitations: While some match-ups are based on skill or size, others are determined by the pace of the game. The Greensboro Swarm are a fast-paced team, and unfortunately for Sagaba Konate, that just isn’t his game as of yet. Konate, while strong, does not possess the speed necessary to play against a quick team, and after 2 personal fouls in 4 minutes, the decision was made to take him out for the remainder of the game.
Closing Out: If basketball were only 3 quarters, the Raptors 905 would be nearly undefeated. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and so they are not. Finish games has been a problem for the 905 for the majority of the season. Tonight in particular, the 905, who held the lead for the majority of the game, gave up 31 points in the 4th quarter, while only scoring 19. 16 of the points awarded to the Swarm came off of turnovers committed by the 905. Obviously players will get tired towards the end of a game, but conserving energy and tightening up execution could turn their 10-17 record around going forward.
Hey you there! Raptors Republic is hooking you up with a sweet discount code for Raptors 905 tickets. Follow this link and use the code RR905. https://bit.ly/2pTZgn6 . The 905’s next home game is Wednesday, January 29th.