Raptors show off numerous identities in loss to Celtics

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Courtesy: raptors.com

It felt like the Raptors gave their fans a novel of what’s to come in a very entertaining preseason loss.

Chapter 1: A lot of the first quarter was…woof

Brutal first chapter here by Toronto, displaying a anemic 0-8 shooting start and 25 percent overall in the opening quarter. The Raps allowed six open threes from Boston, some off miscommunication on switches and others wide open in the corner, something we’ve gotten accustomed to seeing from past seasons. Overall, T.O found themselves down 31-16 after one and plenty of fans started considering slashing the Raps win total prediction this season by oh I don’t know, 10?

Chapter 2: Scottie’s 20/20 vision

Despite all of that, Scottie Barnes had three of his nine assists in the first. The third one in particular was special. If Barnes is comfortable threading lead passes in traffic like THIS? Holy.

Barnes finished with eight assists, averaging 6.3 in three preseason games. Trent being the cutter on this play is especially noteworthy, given his somewhat suspect shot selection at times. GTJ might be in a better position to excel playing alongside playmakers such as Barnes, as opposed to being expected to lead a bench unit where he has a knack of firing ill advised shots. Rotations are far from known though (something that Nurse changes constantly anyway), so seeing who Trent plays alongside will be something to monitor as the season progresses.

Scottie added nine points on 4-10 shooting. Nick Nurse realizes teams may start playing him differently while he works on getting buckets at a reliable rate.

“He’s going to have to combine that with some scoring,” Nurse said after the game. “They are going to start playing him for to pass, when he gets by somebody he has to get to the rim a little bit. I think Scottie gets by some guys and should be striding into his layup, getting to the free throw line a little bit more. We thought he was a ball handling passer, and he’s showing us that.”

Chapter 3: Achiuwa’s versatility

We might have learned more about Precious Achiuwa than any other Raptor this preseason. “The guy we got back for Kyle Lowry” has been showing off an impressive display of mobility, decent shooting mechanics and toughness inside the paint over the first three games. Precious’ ability to handle the ball upcourt is kind of Pascal-esque, which can lead to quick baskets from unsuspecting defences.

I’m going a little bit out of order here, skipping to the 3rd quarter. Here’s another example of Achiuwa being VERY comfortable initiating the offence and bridging Barnes’ great block on Tatum to the finish on the other end. Underrated bounce pass too from your small ball CENTRE.

Achiuwa finished with 13 points, 13 boards, two assists, three steals and a block. He did miss all four of of his three-point attempts, but he only attempted one his entire rookie season. It’s going to be fascinating to see how Achiuwa’s swiss army knife game is used this season.

Chapter 4: OG adding to his bag

Yeah, fans are going to gush about what types of shots OG Anunoby is capable of taking all season long.

https://twitter.com/basketbllnews/status/1446994005435338754

You’re seeing OG realize his budding potential every game now. He had a step back three in the corner over Al Horford a few possessions prior, contributing to the Raptors 43 point second quarter. What a Jekyll and Hyde half!

Anunoby also had no issues taking on Horford in third quarter.

https://twitter.com/hooperbole/status/1446997640730738688

“He’s pretty much in his rhythm and his flow but I kind of expected that. With Pascal being out there’s really not much sharing OG has to do. He’s our number one option right now.” Fred VanVleet said.

Speaking of VanVleet, I could do third quarter chapter on the type of shots he was making in the third quarter. We’ve seen those hot streaks before though. How OG and Pascal pick and choose their spots to score the season along with Fred finally being the lead guard he always wanted to be will also be something to watch.

Chapter 5: Svi likes reverse dunks

The Raptors put on their first quarter mask to begin the fourth but never mind that. OG has also been fond of the reverse flush in the past. Svi Mykhailiuk put one down in Philly the previous game, and tried to add a little more pizzazz (and giggles I guess) this time around. I just wanted a reason to put this here.

https://twitter.com/NBATurkiye/status/1447142279525904386

Chapter 6: Banton’s 4th quarter run

Dalano Banton provides the last chapter to what made this game so fascinating. After Jabari Parker put Boston up eight with just over two minutes to go, Banton drove by Parker for a and-one. He then found David Johnson off a screen for three, stripped Sam Hauser for a transition layup the other way. Pretty soon after the game was tied. Banton had a chance to win the game with a three because NOBODY wanted to see overtime, however it was just off. In total, Dalano had seven points and two assists in just six minutes of play. That’s a hell of a performance.

Monday’s game against Houston could be the last decent preview before these games count. Considering the Raptors both end the preseason and open the regular season against Washington, I would expect that last tune-up to be pretty vanilla.