Raptors beat Blazers 110-104 in Scrimmage

6 mins read

Here’s the box. Here are the highlights:

You can view the strategy of “take what the defense gives you” in two main ways. You can see it as advantageous to the defense as the offense is doing what the defense wants them to do. Or you could see it as the offense being so comfortable in their skin that they’re able to adjust to whatever a defense is throwing at them and operate within those constraints. The latter is what the Raptors are doing. Portland was conceding the three and the Raptors looked at ease taking them – from Siakam to Ibaka, Raptors bigs are able to hit from deep well enough that it can open up slashing spaces for others, as it did throughout this game.

Staying on the bigs topic, the more you see Pascal at the point the more you like it. He’s got a quick enough turn that even when guards reach he’s able to evade rather easily. The finishing is always there on the drive (after a contort or two) but he’s also able to angle out a pass for a hockey assist if need be. It’s hard to see how many of those point-to-wing passes might get intercepted in a “real” game but certainly the makings of a competitive advantage are there, even against good teams.

In the pre-game we talked about the importance of OG and it was on cue. He looked comfortable putting the ball on the floor and was far more situationally aware than he sometimes is. After struggling in the first game he looked silky and fluid, like a butterfly emerging from the cocoon. He is a central figure in any big lineup so seeing him engaged bodes well. With no traditional point guard in those bigger lineups the ball will get swung and kicked out more so the off-the-catch dribble-drive is always going to be there, and that’s what he can excel at. Case in point:

Gasol looked bolder in what he was trying to do out there. I’m going to play psychologist here and say that the weight loss has made Gasol believe that he’s capable of doing things that he passed up before. How often have we seen him leave his feet to throw one down? We didn’t see him in too many defensive sequences which is where we might see more of the benefits from his presumed increased agility. He didn’t play the second half as the Raptors were monitoring his minutes.

Switching to some guard play, Lowry looked in mid-season form, especially when coming from underneath on misdirections:

With his catch-and-shoot motion in rhythm it was then time to test the pull-up game and that was there as well today. With the Raptors big shooting the way they were and OG/Norm putting pressure off the dribble, Lowry got to operate in enough space that it got dangerous for Portland. When they did play him tight and avoid the pull-up three, stuff like this happened:

This was the type of Lowry game which you want to bottle and unleash in Game 6 of the playoffs.

We’ll finish off with some Norm Powell and Matt Thomas talk. Norm set the tone for the second half with this play, which came after the Blazers had a strong second quarter to claw back into the game:

Total defensive focus and knew exactly when to step away from the ball-handler in anticipating the pass. This wasn’t the only astute defensive possession by Norm who also got tested by Carmelo Anthony on the block a couple times.  He also handled the ball a little more after Fred VanVleet left the game and looked relatively comfortable in the role (though Portland didn’t apply much pressure as a team until the fourth).

Here’s a couple Matt Thomas threes to make your day:

The Blazers did make a run late on as the benches emptied and this was the play that finally put enough distance to close it out. A score in the face of a half-court trap:

Overall, the Raptors were sound enough in the paint to hold a rebounding advantage of 54-50 which alongside hitting 14-44 (39%) from three made up for the 39% shooting. Interior rotations were mostly tight with Gasol, Ibaka, Siakam and RJH doing well to contest without excessive fouling and while limiting Hassan Whiteside. The main source of trouble was probably CJ McCollum who requires no space to shoot so he got his. Without Lillard in there they weren’t able to sustain pressure and instead we got hit in bursts which we were able to ward off rather easily.

One more scrimmage against Phoenix on Tuesday at 3PM before the real thing starts.

 

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