Raptors 905 Wrangle Herd Behind Aaron Best Career Performance

Having clinched a playoff spot, sitting at the top of the East with a league-best, and playing an eliminated team, the Raptors 905 had every reason to take it easy. They didn't.

Final Score | Raptors 905  130 –  Wisconsin Herd 115 | Box Score

Two Ways: David Johnson (905), Justin Champagnie (905), Lindell Wigginton (Herd), Sandro Mamukelashvili (Herd)

On Assignment: Isaac Bonga (905)

Inactive: Reggie Perry (905), Ashton Hagans (905), Frank Mason III (Herd), Brandon Randolph (Herd), Javin DeLaurier (Herd), Terry Larrier (Herd)

Having already clinched a playoff spot, sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference, having the best record in the entire G League, and playing a team that has already been eliminated from playoff contention, the Raptors 905 had every reason to take their foot off the gas and coast into the post-season.

But they didn’t.

After a back and forth first half, with 13 lead changes, the Raptors 905 trailed the Wisconsin Herd by 1 heading into the third quarter. The Herd’s two-way players, Sandro Mamukelashvili and Canada’s own Lindell Wigginton were both available against the 905 for the first time this season, allowing Wisconsin to shoot and create from anywhere on the court. Add in the tenacity of guard Rayjon Tucker and the Herd’s offence, on paper, should be unstoppable. But the 905 had an answer for nearly every Herd attempted basket. When the Herd came out of the gate sloppy to start the second half, turning the ball over on the first possession and sending Isaac Bonga to the line, the 905 swooped in like vultures, making the Herd pay for every single mistake. Three Wisconsin turnovers later, they finally made their first basket of the second half, but could not overcome the 36-19 scoring deficit caused by the Raptors 905 before heading into the final 12 minutes.

The Good:

Have Yourself A Game Then: Aaron Best is the prototypical 3 and D player, who will calmly and quietly drop 15 on you before you even realize it. The biggest mistake any opposing team can make would be to leave him open anywhere on the perimeter, because his catch and shoot abilities rival that of a striking rattlesnake. He finished with a new career high of 24 points, along with 7 rebounds and 2 steals. The most spectacular part of Best’s career game was that none of it felt forced. He created for his teammates just as well as he shot. He had no interest in stat padding, because he never does. He is the perfect example of a team-first player and leader.

Bree-fence Wins Championships: Breein Tyree had 24 points off of the bench, and his foot was never removed from the collective necks of the Wisconsin Herd. Of the Herd’s 23 turnovers, nearly all of them were caused, at least in part, by Tyree. He was the smallest player on the floor and still grabbed 3 defensive rebounds. You can’t teach size, and you can’t teach hustle. If you are a Fred VanVleet fan, then you should keep an eye on Breein Tyree.

The Bad: 

Good, Good, Not Bad: Kevon Harris couldn’t hit the ocean from a boat, but still finished with a 21 point, 11 rebound double-double. When he’s on, he’s electric, but when he’s off, well…he’s still electric, but kind of in the finger-in-a-light-socket way.

Free Throws: THEY ARE FREE. THEY ARE SHOTS THAT ARE FREE. 60% from the free throw line is not a very pretty stat. Thankfully for the 905 the Herd shot equally as bad from the line, and free throws weren’t needed for the 905 to maintain the lead.

Some Thoughts:

Him: Sandro Mamukelashvili is HIM. He is such a force inside and out, and moves so quickly for a big man. He was the Herd’s leading scorer with 30 points and 21 REBOUNDS. If the Raptors couldn’t pry Giannis from the clutches of the Milwaukee Bucks, then they should be relentless in their pursuit of Sandro. He’d be like our own little Nikola Jokic.

Balls of Steel: Rayjon Tucker is like a very skilled Patrick Beverley. He has mastered the art of trash-talk and getting in his opponent’s head, while having the talent to back it up. He also got in the face of Alex Antetokounmpo after a foul, with Giannis sitting mere feet away. He is insane. Sign him.

The Raptors 905 will stay on Wisconsin and face the Herd once again on Friday at 8:00 p.m.