First rule of Preseason is don’t talk about the Preseason.
Cause you overhype the good and underplay the bad. You’re supposed to observe these games stoically; a fan respecting abstinence.
But fuck that.
WHAT A GAME, AM I RIGHT?
Sure, sure, there were some concerning moments: Andre Drummond makin’ like he was Patrick Ewing in the 1st quarter; a diminutive looking FVV going 3/11; a whopping 24 turnovers.
Whatever, it’s just…the Preseason.
More importantly, this whole length + strength youth movement might be one of the story lines in the whole of the NBA this year.
The second quarter started out 30-25 Raptors. By the time OG and FVV got back on the court a little over halfway through, the gangly gang of Scottie Barnes/Precious Achiuwa, Dalano Banton, Justin Champagnie, Yuta Watanabe, and Svi Mykhailiuk had jacked the score up to 55-35.
The Bench Bandits – Mob doesn’t do these guys justice – were a blur. An absolute terror. It was one of those rare moments of invulnerability, where the other team might as well sign out for the night mired in a sludge of futility, while the young spry Raptors vaulted back-and-forth in utter glee.
Look at this crew.
Raptors length too much pic.twitter.com/tsTQPAyjzJ
— Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) October 4, 2021
It’s not always going to be like that. When the game slows – and it’ll inevitably slow – things are gonna look a lot more…challenging. That’s to worry about some other time.
For now, as of the first game of the NBA Preseason, we have the best bench in the NBA.
(How’s that for overhype?)
Toronto’s off to Philly for the rematch.
Not too much to say, after all, it’s the Preseason. So, here are some minor things to say.
A lack of Malachi Flynn last game was an interesting subplot.
For the record, Malachi Flynn is healthy and available to play. He didn’t play in the first half.
— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) October 5, 2021
He played only 14 minutes. Apparently, it was by design:
Nurse wanted to get more on-ball reps for some of the wings and bigs (mentioned Barnes, Banton and Achiuwa specifically), hence no Flynn in the first half. He said the rotation will look different on Thursday.
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) October 5, 2021
I prefer to think that Malachi committed a couple of Nish-Nishes in practice and lost his spot to a surging Banton. What can I say, I’m one for the drama.
Though, I didn’t see any Instagram posts from Papa Flynn after the game. Maybe that’s only because Zuck was busy losing $7 billion. I’ll assume, all’s well and Malachi will see action tonight.
After all, we are going to want to see more of Malachi. He’s expected to carry this second unit alongside Goran Dragić, especially in the half court. His pick and roll adeptness last year certainly left the team thinking he’s capable. These reps in Preseason – he looked omnipotent in Summer League – will give us a better idea if he’s ready to [pick and] roll.
Speaking of ready to roll, can we just have one game where OG puts up 20 shots? ONE GAME!?
You saw his supreme efficiency on Monday (21 points on 58% shooting and two almost step-back jumpers). I want to see that to the extreme. Just to know he can. Then he can sit for the rest of the Preseason for all I care.
He’s shown he’s ready to give it a go outmuscling small guards in the lane with his forklift pro-hop and lulling them to sleep with his newfound handles:
OG weighing it first pic.twitter.com/2HnIlWcsdk
— Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) October 5, 2021
The fun and games that were Monday’s affair may come to a close Thursday.
Joel Embiid, 2020-21’s MVP runner-up, and scoring forward, Tobias Harris, are likely to play. That means take all of that good and bad you saw from Andre Drummond and turn up the good a few notches, and turn down the bad many notches. Philly’s offence got gummed up on Monday, partly, thanks to aforementioned Bench Banditry and, partly, because their top 3 scorers/creators (Ohhhh Benny Ben Ben what’ve you got yourself into?) were…umm…unavailable.
Without Khem Birch, Pascal Siakam, or Chris Boucher in the middle, it’ll be interesting to see how the long-arm-and-leg-matrix ensnares the skilled and ginormous Embiid. Maybe we get some Reggie Perry action, maybe we get some zone play, or maybe we just throw Scottie Barnes at him for the Hell of it and see what happens.
The whole “how’re we going to handle talented bigs” quandary is something that’ll plague us all season. So might as well start fretting now.
Yuta’s done for some time with a calf strain (Goddamn, too bad, he really looked ready to establish his presence). I’m thinking we’re about to get some more Ish Wainright, Isaac Bonga, and Sam Dekker minutes, all of whom desperately need to perform well if they want to outdo what we saw from the others last game.
On that note, I am a little worried on Freddie Gillespie’s behalf. He doesn’t fit the prototype of what the Raptors are trying to build and what he does have going for him – his strength – has been compromised by his poor positioning and ineffectiveness at both ends. My guess is, as of right now, he’s a final cuts casualty.
Tip-Off: Thursday, October 7, 7 P.M. ET | TSN2 | NBA TV | NBCS-PH
Pascal Siakam (shoulder), Khem Birch (COVID-19), Chris Boucher (finger), and Yuta Watanabe (calf strain) are out.
PG: Fred VanVleet, Malachi Flynn, Goran Dragić
SG: Gary Trent Jr., Svi Mykhailiuk, Sam Dekker, Justin Champagnie, David Johnson
SF: OG Anunoby, Dalano Banton, Isaac Bonga
PF: Scottie Barnes, Ish Wainright
C: Precious Achiuwa, Freddie Gillespie, Reggie Perry
Ben Simmons (Diva) and Grant Riller (torn meniscus) are out. Charles Bassey is day-to-day. Joel Embiid (rest) and Tobias Harris (knee) are likely to suit up.
PG: Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton, Lamar Peters
SG: Seth Curry, Furkan Korkmaz, Jaden Springer
SF: Danny Green, Matisse Thybulle
PF: Georges Niang, Paul Reed
C: Andre Drummond
Nothing out yet.
These games get sloppy late. I’ll take the over on a 226 line.