Toronto improves to 4-3 after turning a relatively close game through two and a half quarters into a blowout against Atlanta, despite missing Fred VanVleet with lower back stiffness. This was a popular selection for sports fans using a fanduel offer code at oddschecker, which duly landed .The Raptors finished with 139 points (!!), tied for the fourth most in franchise history in regulation.
Some keys below:
Scottie’s career shooting night
Barnes mentioned before the season that he had been working on his three point shot, specifically pullup jumpers in particular. He’s also shown improved ability to create his own shot in one on one situations. This step back three against a pretty good defender in De’Andre Hunter was just a sign of things to come four minutes into the game.
That’s right near the top in terms of the most fluid shot creation from Scottie. He then fired two pullup treys in rapid fire succession, as the Hawks were slow getting to Barnes as the trailer.
His fourth three of the game was another eye opener.
Pulling up from deep in a two-for-one scenario is a VanVleet specialty that Barnes took advantage of playing the point in Fred’s absence. Scottie added a fifth three (another pullup) in the fourth quarter, which set a new career high for a game.
It’s a very small sample size, but Barnes is now shooting 52.4 percent from three on 3.5 attempts through six games. That’s a sizeable jump from 30 in his rookie season and while the percentages will likely come back down to earth at some point, the willingness to take those shots has been something Nick Nurse has been encouraging Scottie to take from day one.
The Cripple Double?
Charles Barkley invented the term “triple-single” to my knowledge. Is this a new one?
To be kind, Trae Young torched the Raptors last season. Atlanta played Toronto in the second half of the season when Fred was already labouring. There were no answers to the pick and roll game where Young masterfully found lobs, shooters, and whatever he wanted for his own points.
This time around the Raptors made Trae extremely uncomfortable with length. Scottie routinely picked up Trae bringing up the ball before halfcourt. O.G. Anunoby shared responsibilities as well. Even Precious Achiuwa shared some shifts guarding Trae above the three point line and doing a solid job staying in front of him. Young was limited to 3-13 shooting after coming in averaging a career-high 24 shot attempts a game.
The Raptors calling card is wreaking havoc with deflections and steals to get in transition. The first example below happens after Precious switches onto Trae, and Scottie jumps the pass that was intended for Onyeka Onkongwu.
Here’s another look of Trae being picked up early with both Scottie and Malachi Flynn lurking while the other three Raptors stayed home, leading to what seemed like a pass (bad one) to an open teammate being picked off by Chris Boucher.
Young had 10 of the Hawks 18 turnovers, leading to a season-high 43 (!!) fastbreak points for the Raptors. Atlanta’s best offensive runs in this game were mostly through Dejounte Murray running point when Trae was on the bench.
“There was a lot of team length out there tonight and that mattered. Even when we had to switch, there was somebody long on him. Especially when he was roaming around looking for someone to pass to, we made a lot of his passes difficult.” Nick Nurse said after the game.
O.G’s defensive masterclass
The campaign has already begun. Anunoby is on a mission to become only the second Raptor to earn an All-Defence selection (Kawhi Leonard second team in 2019). That seems wild considering what the Raptors have done defensively over the better part of a decade with the likes of Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam, along with O.G.
After last night’s performance, Anunoby leads the NBA in steals per game at 2.6. Fred is right behind him at 2.5.
“His reads, when he is locked in you can see it. Every deflection, he always feels like he can get the ball, the ball just finds him. I try to just tell him, man you’re special and if he applies himself every night he can definitely be a nightmare for a lot of offensive players in the league.”
Getting to the Line
Siakam had another all around game with 31 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. What stood out was his career-high 16 free throw attempts, making 13 of them. Pascal is now sixth in the league in free throw attempts per game at 8.9, up from his 5.6 rate last season.
That was important in the third quarter as Siakam got the Raptors into the bonus early and went 6-6 from the line, helping Toronto push the lead into double digits for good. It’s also Pascal’s sixth straight 20-5-5 game, a new Raptors record and currently the longest streak in the NBA.
A Texas two-step. San Antonio (5-2) is up first on Wednesday.