Ice Trae dismantles Raptors, caps off ugly back to back

Well that was an ugly back to back, but Precious was great!

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Occasionally when a game we’re watching is extremely lopsided, fellow RR colleague Andrew Damelin and I exchange a Rasheed Wallace quote for laughs.

What’s even more hilarious is this presser came after a win, however Sheed’s gonna Sheed.

It’s not as fun when a “both teams played hard” game happens twice in a row but here we are.

The Raptors didn’t trail by 41 points like they did on Friday in Charlotte, but 32 vs the Hawks isn’t that much better in this play-in tournament tour to begin the unofficial second half of the season. Toronto falls to 8-4 on the second night of back to backs, which is still a far cry better than Tampa’s 3-13 campaign. If you like doom and gloom, this is the time of year that everything went to hell in Florida last season. Toronto started a nine game losing streak and went all-in on “play in for what?”

That’s not going to happen this season, I don’t even know why I brought that up. Anyway let’s start on the good for this recap before getting to the inevitable bad.

Precious Achiuwa

Fred VanVleet poured in 14 first quarter points, but it was Precious who really got the Raptors going midway through the quarter after a subpar start. He was one of the only Raptors to provide successful help on Trae Young (MUCH more on that later), which turned into a transition basket. Achiuwa scored in a variety of ways including a pair of corner threes and cuts both in transition and the half court offence.

Then there was also this nasty poster on Onyeka Okongwu, which might be Achiuwa’s best highlight of the season off the top of my head? Might be prisoner of the moment, but I don’t think so.

Precious finished with a season-high 21 points, two off tying his career-high as a rookie in Miami. He came off the bench, which is starting to become a hot topic while OG Anunoby is out. Over the last two games, Achiuwa is a plus 1 on the court, while Khem Birch has one point in 31 minutes and is a minus 45. Nick Nurse is one to always leave us wondering.

Ice Trae

The Raptors took a 12 point lead in the second quarter with Trae Young off the court, but everything changed when he returned. Trae sparked a 18-0 run that ultimately gave Atlanta the lead for good in every way possible.

Exhbit A: Poor transition defence. Young did a great job of pushing the pace to find teammates open up court, or score himself. You can see a few Raptors simply jogging back in the meantime below.

Exhibit B: the half court, where Trae couldn’t be stopped. He used the high screen to perfection, torching Raptors bigs in drop coverage with floaters. VanVleet’s troubled knee couldn’t stay in front of Young at all, as he found himself consistently being used for either straight line attacks or creating space on elbow jumpers. Any sort of help led to a shooter being open for an easy assist.

Then poor Chris Boucher found himself on an island defending Trae a couple of times after a switch.

It has to be a terrible feeling as a big guarding Trae as he retreats to nearly halfcourt with the crowd anticipating a highlight, KNOWING it’s a horrible mismatch. Young had 25 points and six assists in the first half alone. What’s even worse is Young was so efficient around the elbow and in the paint that he didn’t need to make a three, which is a huge part of his game.

Trae decided to check that box in the third quarter, as the Hawks started to completely blow this game open.

Shortly after that, Young found Clint Capela for three alley-oop dunks in less than two minutes which capped a 16-0 run. That probably made many Raptors fans finally change the channel as the Hawks took a 27 point lead.

The first one is below, as Capela got behind the defence in transition. Scottie Barnes took his turn at defending Trae on the other two, but Young blew by him both times, forcing Achiuwa to help which once again left Capela wide open.

Overall, Trae finished with 41 points (17-24 shooting) and 11 assists. It’s the second time this season that Young has shot over 70 percent from the field. Nurse admitted after the game that he waited too long to make an adjustment, but when he tried the execution was poor.

OG as another option to help on Trae was certainly missed, but this was all done without John Collins who is probably the Hawks second best player. Toronto and Atlanta play each other one more time, and the Hawks can easily be a play-in opponent. It will be interesting to see what coverages the Raptors deploy the next time against Trae.

Sidenotes

Fred took responsibility after the game saying that this isn’t the time to ease back into things. He seemed mildly annoyed with all-star break questions in general.

“You guys can overreact and write whatever you want, I really don’t care. If we win these last two games, the narrative and story would be completely different. We came out and played like ass and everybody wants to jump to conclusions and try to make deep dives, break down what went wrong and who did what, I shouldn’t have played in the all-star game, Pascal was on vacation. It is what it is man, it’s all-star break. It’s in the middle of the season. We didn’t come out of the gate performing like we wanted to. So write what you will, I believe in this team I think we’ll be back,” said VanVleet.

His fiancé also chimed in.

https://twitter.com/ShontaiNeal_/status/1497780464823767040

What’s Next?

The second set of three back to back’s featured a home and home series with Brooklyn. The play-in tour continues.

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