Quick Reaction: Raptors 117, Nuggets 109

7 mins read
DEN Nuggets 109 Final
Box Score
117 TOR Raptors

A
R. Hollis-Jefferson22 MIN, 6 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST, 0 STL, 3-8 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-1 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 11 +/-

We talk a lot about “energy guys” in the NBA, and every single one of them should watch Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for tips. Rondae took a leadership role in this game and, although his numbers were subpar, he went +11 and led the team with his high-energy performance and constant communication.

B
M. Thomas28 MIN, 12 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 4-6 FG, 2-3 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, 7 +/-

Thomas was more aggressive than I’ve ever seen him before, but he will continue to struggle scoring against a team as long and fast as Denver until he adds to his offensive arsenal. Thomas would do well to increase his range and do a better job attacking the rim, maybe adding a floater. He also had two beautiful passes tonight.

B+
M. Gasol17 MIN, 2 PTS, 3 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 1-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, -2 +/-

Gasol’s defense will always be his greatest asset, and he held Jokic to just 2 points on 1/1 shooting in 10 minutes. It was cool to see Gasol have such a big playmaking responsibility in his minutes, but I would like to see him more aggressively shoot the open three when it comes to him.

B-
T. Davis34 MIN, 14 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 5-15 FG, 2-6 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, 6 +/-

Davis was subpar today, shooting just 5-15 from the floor with two sloppy turnovers. However, his bounce and athleticism are evident as is his shot-making from behind the arc. He could be a key piece in a couple of playoff games when the Raptors need an offensive spark, but I think he is still too immature of a player to play a big role this year.

A
N. Powell23 MIN, 15 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 6-10 FG, 3-5 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 3 TO, -3 +/-

Powell is clearly back to pre-bubble form, as his touch around the rim and from behind the arc are both back. He was unstoppable in transition and very controlled with the ball in his hands today, still allowing the young players to flourish.

A+
S. Johnson29 MIN, 23 PTS, 4 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL, 9-16 FG, 4-8 3FG, 1-3 FT, 0 BLK, 5 TO, 5 +/-

Watching Johnson score 23 points on 4-8 from behind the arc made me so happy. Johnson has clearly lost some weight from earlier in the season and it shows in his improved first step, which he used all day to get to the rim. If the three-point shooting holds up he could be a big part of the Raptors rotation next season.

B+
P. Watson27 MIN, 22 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 8-13 FG, 4-6 3FG, 2-3 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 8 +/-

Watson shot the ball incredibly well in this one and he has impressive poise and maturity for someone so new to the league. He still has areas to improve — mainly his playmaking and defense — but he will learn from the best point guards he could ask for in Lowry and VanVleet.

A
M. Miller26 MIN, 10 PTS, 1 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 4-5 FG, 2-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 3 +/-

Miller impressed me despite his subpar numbers. He defended Bol Bol for a lot of the game and held his own in the post while still being an elite perimeter defender. He is a classic 3-and-D player who consistently plays well when given the opportunity, even when his shot isn’t falling like it did today.

B+
C. Boucher22 MIN, 9 PTS, 9 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 3-8 FG, 1-3 3FG, 2-3 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 5 +/-

I love Boucher’s aggression and he did a good job attacking the rim in this one. His defense has improved a lot from the start of the season, too.

C-
D. Hernandez13 MIN, 4 PTS, 7 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 2-6 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 0 +/-

Hernandez is very quick on his feet but sometimes lacks quick decision-making and needs to improve his footwork in the post. He got blocked several times today by going straight up instead of practicing patience or using a more diverse array of moves under the basket.

A
Nick Nurse

Nurse gets an A because he won the game and he let the young guys flourish. He gets credit for the Raptors always playing so hard no matter the circumstances.

Things We Saw

  1. With the win against the Nuggets the Raptors clinch the 2nd best record of the bubble, going 7-1. Only the Pheonix Suns had a better record.
    People will argue that the regular season/bubble aren’t that consequential to the playoffs, but the Raptors find ways to win games no matter what.
  2. In terms of the playoff rotation, I still believe the Raptors are going to stick to a 7-player rotation when things really matter. However, I think Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Terrance Davis should be the first two off the bench (After Powell and Ibaka). They both deserve a chance to show what they can do in a playoff setting, particularly when the matchup dictates it (Rondae is an ex-Brooklyn Net and Davis is a great transition player).
  3. As Stanley Johnson said in his post-game press conference: Justice for Breonna Taylor! You can contact the attorney general in charge of the case here: https://ag.ky.gov/Contact-Us/Pages/default.aspx

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