Quick Reaction: Raptors 126, Grizzlies 113

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Raptors 126 Final
Box Score
113 Grizzlies

B+
P. Siakam33 MIN, 17 PTS, 7 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 5-13 FG, 1-3 3FG, 8- FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, +2 +/-

He was the embodiment of the team – rough first half, brilliant second half. He remains confident in his jumper, which is such a productive step forward. He made some off the catch spotting up and one on the pop out of the pick and roll. He didn’t get a ton of touches, but he still did some productive work, even working in a Gortat screen to get VanVleet an uncontested layup! He was aggressive on the offensive glass, at least, to make up for his bizarre lack of touches. For real, why does Trent look him off so often? He finally got some touches in the third quarter and drew some free throws, had a nice post finish. On the other end, he had trouble limiting Jaren Jackson jr. to start the game, but really settled in in the second half, becoming his defend-everything-at-once self.

A+
P. Achiuwa28 MIN, 17 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 7-11 FG, 3-3 3FG, 0- FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, +28 +/-

Picked up two fouls early, which took him out of the game. His absence really hurt Toronto’s defense; he’s been critical there. He missed a few more pick and roll passes from VanVleet that were right on the money, but he seemed to address that at half and finished out of the pick and roll well in the second half. His rim protection and rebounding in the third quarter was critical to the team finally evening the score. His jumper got GOING going — he scored all 17 in the third quarter.

A
S. Barnes39 MIN, 17 PTS, 9 REB, 3 AST, 0 STL, 8-14 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0- FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, +18 +/-

Early on, he seemed to have hit the rookie wall (again), but he threw in a funky finish and then a buzzer-beating triple from half to end the first quarter, which seemed to get him going afterwards – he dunked, hit distance jumpers, got strips, and was altogether his old self. Some nice playmaking as a roller. He’s always gonna find ways to make it happen! It ended up as one of his best games in the last bunch, especially on the defensive end, where he was much more comfortable switching and defending in isolation.

A
F. VanVleet37 MIN, 23 PTS, 6 REB, 7 AST, 2 STL, 9-14 FG, 3-7 3FG, 2- FT, 2 BLK, 4 TO, +18 +/-

His offense was crucial to start the game, as he hit a deep pull-up triple and a switching-hands-in-midair floater trying to draw a foal. Then it got … more crucial, as he spent much of the game blowing past point-of-attack defenders, getting the help on his back, and finishing his layups. He was fantastic forcing turnovers and diming up Barnes in transition in the second quarter when Toronto closed the lead. As ALWAYS, he hit a killer pull-up triple late in the fourth.

A
G. Trent Jr.39 MIN, 26 PTS, 1 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 8-17 FG, 4-7 3FG, 6- FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, +13 +/-

His defense was sloppy early, but once Yuta stepped on the court and settled down the defense, Trent had some standout plays on that end. He threw in some tough jumpers, as he does, even hitting an impossible stepback triple in the third quarter with a player basically falling on top of him. Some insane shot-making early in the fourth to keep a bench unit alive. The team goes through stretches where they’d be toast without Trent.

D
C. Boucher7 MIN, 5 PTS, 0 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 2-4 FG, 0-1 3FG, 1- FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -2 +/-

He had no interest in stopping Ja Morant on a drive, not able to keep up with his dribble or contest at the rim. Lost his minutes in the second half.

A+
Y. Watanabe14 MIN, 3 PTS, 3 REB, 0 AST, 2 STL, 0-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 4- FT, 2 BLK, 0 TO, -5 +/-

Hard to overstate his importance in the rotation. He didn’t get a lot of touches in his first stint, but he had a nice block after rotating to protect the rim, and he snatched an offensive rebound in transition to draw free throws. Then hit the offensive glass in the halfcourt, earned some free throws. Teamed up with VanVleet to deflect some passes out of pick and roll. He ate Boucher’s second-half minutes like pacman; that may become a thing going forward. Had one of the blocks of the season, which was called a foul but was reversed after Nurse challenged. He was always going to get an A+ for this being his first game back, but he had a great game on top of just being in the lineup.

A
M. Flynn12 MIN, 6 PTS, 1 REB, 4 AST, 0 STL, 3-4 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0- FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -3 +/-

He got more first-half minutes, and he performed well in them! (How often have you heard that?) He was able to get paint drives and passed well to create easy baskets. Even made a moonball floater when forced to score! Then in the second half he had some sneaky steals, solid passes. A brilliant finish. The team just plays well when he’s on the court.

A-
D. Banton14 MIN, 4 PTS, 2 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 2-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0- FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -1 +/-

He has confidence in his ability to run offensive sets. When Siakam demanded the ball in the post, Banton drove towards him to force a defensive decision and saw both players go with Siakam, so he circled the rim and dished to the other corner for a triple. Great awareness and confidence not just to throw the ball to Siakam. Later, he did a great job guarding Ja in isolation. Toronto needs trusty bench players, and he delivered here.

B
S. Mykhailiuk18 MIN, 8 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 3-7 FG, 2-4 3FG, 0- FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -3 +/-

His defense was iffy, as he made a few no-chance gambles that gave some Grizzlies uncontested paths to the rim. Hit some big shots, though.

A
Nick Nurse

I never know what to say here. How to judge a game like that, with a miserable defensive performance in one half and a great one in the other? He had Yuta eating Boucher’s minutes, which was a big plus on the defensive end. He probably rode VanVleet, Siakam, and Barnes a little too much, but what are you gonna do? I liked his challenge to stick up for Yuta in his return. He was battling (with the refs) as much as his guys were battling on the court, too. Alright, I convinced myself. Great coaching game.

Things We Saw

  1. The defense was, ahh, rough to start the game. Toronto had little rim protection and even less rebounding when they did force a miss. Brandon Clarke tore them up. Jaren Jackson jr. was unstoppable. Desmond Bane couldn’t be limited. It was difficult. That’s kind of what happens when you have one center on the roster, and he picks up early fouls. They had a real hole to dig their way out of as a result.
  2. A weird Siakam game. HIs defense was great after being spotty in the first quarter. He did some fantastic off-ball stuff — screening, rebounding, etc. — without really getting any touches. It’s clearly not his best game, but he did a lot to make it work!
  3. The defensive switch is real. When they do the thing, it looks fantastic. But it’s complex like a 10000-piece puzzle! All the switching, rotating, peeling, and closing out is enough to make the viewer dizzy, let alone the opponents. When it didn’t work (the first half), it gives up open shots anywhere the opponents want. When it does work (the second half), it takes away everything. Every ballhandler sees a crowd, every pass is pressured, and every shot is run off the line. It’s easy to see why the team runs such a scheme when it works.
  4. Was that Toronto’s most fun game of the season? Both teams were incredibly chirpy, with lots of talking on both sides. At one point, Dillon Brook started yelling “ahh” “ahhhh” making fun of Siakam for how he yells after contact. (That seemed to get Siakam going, to be honest, as he played much better going forward.) Great win against a good team.