The Raptors 905 are home after a successful 3 game road trip. Their only loss, to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, helped the Indiana Pacers-affiliate to even their game streak at 16 wins and 16 losses, while their wins over the Greensboro Swarm and Lakeland Magic moved them into 11th place in the Eastern Conference.
Raptors 905 at Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Monday, February 3rd, 2020
Final Score | Raptors 905 114, Fort Wayne Mad Ants 122 | Box Score
Two Ways: Oshae Brissett (905)
Inactive: Paul Watson Jr. (905), Jawun Evans (905), Brian Bowen II (Mad Ants), Naz Mitrou-Long (Mad Ants), Tre Kelley (Mad Ants), Travin Thibodeaux (Mad Ants), C.J. Wilcox (Mad Ants)
The 905 vs. Mad Ants game was reminiscent of a time before two-way contracts were introduced. Fort Wayne were missing both of their two-way players in Brian Bowen II and Naz Mitrou-Long, while Toronto’s Paul Watson Jr. stayed with the parent team after scoring his first NBA point. Oshae Brissett travelled with the 905 and was scheduled to be an integral part of a successful road trip, but an ankle injury just 2 minutes into the first quarter of play saw him sidelined for the remainder of the game and the entire game following. Despite Brissett going down early and unexpectedly, the 905 fought until the bitter end, ultimately falling to the Mad Ants by 8 points.
Bench Contribution: The starters stepped up in Oshae’s absence, but the bench stepped up and over. It would be impossible to name a single bench player as a standout star, because calling it a team effort doesn’t even do it justice. Season highs for both Justin Reyes kept the game close, and the ability of the entire bench to be inserted into any line-up and succeed is a testament to the 905’s conditioning. Sagaba Konate’s minutes were short, but in them he managed to recover a loose ball from Scoochie Smith for a Fort Wayne turnover to end the 1st quarter. Rather than shoot the ball after receiving a pass from a Michael Bethea Jr. steal, Matt Morgan passed immediately to Henry Ellenson for an uncontested 3. Nicholas Baer finished with 5 total points, 3 of which came from a 3 point shot off of a driving pass from Notice. His block on Alize Johnson in the 2rd quarter served as a heat-check for the mad Ant’s centre, who had yet to miss a shot, shooting 13/18 from the field by the end of the game. The starters had the points, but the bench had the hustle.
Justin Reyes: This game will forever be known as the Justin Reyes game. 14 points and 2 steals were a season high for the 24 year-old guard. Shooting 50% from 3, Reyes was unstoppable. Passing out of the paint to Tyler Ennis, it was Reyes who was immediately in position for the offensive rebound, an area the 905 have struggled with this season. His pump-fake set the table once again for Tyler Ennis to attempt a 3-point shot, and was followed by a Reyes dunk that we had yet to see this season due to his limited minutes. Justin played the most minutes off of the bench with 26, and the way he performed in every single one of them is a testament to what he is capable of when he’s given the opportunity.
Take Notice: When I first heard Lil Mosey’s song ‘Noticed’ I thought it was called ‘Notice,’ and that the line “switched up act like I ain’t noticed” was actually “switched up like I’m Duane Notice.” I was ecstatic that Duane was finally getting the recognition he deserved, and that baby Klay Thompson had paid homage to his transition game in particular. I realize now, of course, several listens later, that this isn’t the case. That doesn’t mean I will ever sing the correct lyrics, and after Duane’s last 3 performances, maybe Lil Mosey won’t either. Like Justin, Duane also secured his season-high against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. It was also the only game that Notice was able to get to the free throw line after being bulldozed by like 3 defenders. 2 of 2 from the line, and 6 of 14 from the field, Notice’s impact off the bench was the biggest factor in keeping the game close.
Shot Selection: The Raptors 905 shot 32% from 3. The number isn’t terrible, but if shots aren’t falling from beyond the arch, regrouping and shooting from elsewhere could prove beneficial. While Henry Ellenson couldn’t miss, Devin Robinson and Tyler Ennis made a combined 0 buckets from outside. It happens to everyone, and fortunately for the 905, both Ennis and Robinson are able to make their respective impacts in enough ways that their 3-point shooting isn’t heavily relied upon.
Offensive Rebounding: Toronto had 13 offensive rebounds in this game. Fort Wayne had 32 defensive rebounds. That means the 905 were outrebounded 19 times in their own end. Offensive rebounding has been an issue all season, and could be the key to closing out games.
Raptors 905 at Greensboro Swarm
Wednesday, February 5th, 2020
Final Score | Raptors 905 116, Greensboro Swarm 103 | Box Score
Two Ways: Ray Spalding (Swarm)
Inactive: Paul Watson Jr. (905), Jawun Evans (905), Oshae Brissett (905), Donte Ingram (Swarm), Max Montana (Swarm), Demajeo Wiggins (Swarm), Kobi Simmons (Swarm)
It’s always a treat when the Raptors 905 get to play the Greensboro Swarm. It’s always chippy, and Jalen McDaniels continues to write cheques that his mouth can’t cash. This time, the 905 defeated the Swarm by a 13-point margin, and held McDaniels to 17 points, allowing him to shoot just 5 of 17 from the field.
Bigger Than Basketball: Matt Morgan went undrafted in the 2019 NBA draft after spending 4 seasons at the prestigious Cornell University. Though his NCAA career was remarkable, totalling 2333 points over 4 seasons, going undrafted meant that his friends and family may have never had the opportunity to see him play professionally. The 6’2 guard hails from Concord, North Carolina, where a trip to his Ivy League alma-mater would be over a 10-hour drive. After joining the Toronto Raptors for Summer League in Las Vegas, Morgan was signed by the Raptors 905, and on February 5th, those close to him finally got to watch him play professionally in his own backyard. Not only did Morgan get to put on a show for his loved ones, head coach Jama Mahlalela also inserted him into the starting line-up for the special occasion. While winning is important, Mahlalela has always preached the importance of development, success, and most of all family. Allowing Morgan to live out his dream, surrounded by those who have been with him every step of the way is just a small example of what makes Mahlalela the perfect coach for a developmental league, and Morgan did not disappoint. He started the game with a 3-point shot in the first minutes of the first quarter, and when the final buzzer sounded, Morgan had totalled 15 points and 5 rebounds.
Sharing Is Caring: While some G League players who have spent time in the NBA treat the G League as a highlight reel, others play team basketball, be it naturally or by making a conscious effort to do so. Tyler Ennis is the former. He is the best guard in the league right now, and it isn’t just because he is able to score 30 or more points on any given night. It’s because he gets his teammates involved at every opportunity. 9 assists is not a stat line you would see, or expect, from a player actively trying to make it back into the big leagues. But that was Ennis. A first-quarter steal for Ennis could have easily been converted into an unassisted layup. Instead, he passed the ball ahead to Devin Robinson, giving the points to him.
A lack of NBA experience doesn’t stop Duane Notice, Ennis’ long-time friend and teammate, from playing just as hard off-ball as he does with it in his hands. 11 of the 905’s baskets were directly assisted by Notice, who has embraced his role as a facilitator instead of a primary ball-handler. That’s not to say that Notice doesn’t see success while in possession, but rather that he is successful in any role he is given.
We All Have the Same Number Of Hours In a Day (But Some Should Have More): Sagaba Konate hit 2 field goals against the Greensboro Swarm. He was playing the best that we have seen him all year, but the speed of the Swarm is not the best fit for playing Konate more than a few minutes when a big body is needed on the floor. The “bad” in this situation wasn’t Konate himself, not even close. It was that he was only able to play 4 minutes total. Still, he made the most of them, with 4 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal.
Raptors 905 at Lakeland Magic
Friday, February 7th, 2020
Final Score | Raptors 905 117, Lakeland Magic 115 | Box Score
Two Ways: Oshae Brissett (905), BJ Johnson (Magic), Vic Law (Magic)
Inactive: Paul Watson Jr. (905), Jawun Evans (905), Jon Davis (Magic), Isaac Humphries (Magic), Justin Jackson (Magic), Chuma Okeke (Magic)
Oshae Brissett was able to return to the starting line-up for the Raptors 905 against the Lakeland Magic, but Paul Watson Jr. remained with the parent team, and Jawun Evans was still sidelined with a hamstring injury. The final score was close, but the 905 were consistently the better team throughout all 4 quarters.
Man-to-Man Defence: My mom used to say something about “sticking to you like a fly on shit” and while she wasn’t talking about basketball, this is a good analogy for the way the 905 defended against the Lakeland Magic. Being guarded as closely as the Raptors 905 played caused the Magic to commit 20 personal fouls and 9 turnovers. Josh Magette, a leading scorer for the Magic, had 4 personal fouls, resulting in the need for the Magic to play him off-ball in order to keep him in the game. When guarded by Duane Notice or Tyler Ennis, Magette was kept to just 7 field goals. The entire Lakeland roster shot just 28% from 3-point range, and that is credited entirely to the 905’s perimeter defence.
Hello Devin, Welcome Back: Devin Robinson never left, but his energy seemed to disappear for a period of time. Mentally, we can only assume that trying to make a big enough impression to get back into the NBA is defeating, especially when there are players being signed that are without a doubt less talented than you. This was the game when it appeared that Devin had regained the signature spring in his step that drew so many 905 fans to him immediately. He dunked, he blocked, he made 3’s, he rebounded, but most importantly, he looked happy doing it.
Vic Law: Vic Law is, by all accounts, a powerhouse. That is, until he plays the 905. The newly-minted two-way player was held to just 9 points in 31 minutes. This isn’t bad for Toronto, but for the Magic. Oh well, that’s their problem.
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