Last night was destined to be a tough game for Toronto due to all the injuries the team has suffered lately. As if losing Pascal Siakam and Precious Achiuwa wasn’t enough, Fred VanVleet was ruled out yesterday with a Non Covid illness. So now a game that was supposed to be easier compared to the upcoming schedule was made into a fight. Early on Toronto had control of the game on the strength of some great production from OG Anunoby and Chris Boucher. They were also able to hold Tyrese Haliburton scoreless in the opening period. Early on OG made it a point to get into the paint which he was able to do by means of his own creation which is always a welcome sight. Whenever more touches open up due to injury you can count on OG to take advantage of the opportunity. Another guy who helped out in a big way early on is Chris Boucher. He came in and poured in 9 quick points which were mostly paint touches. Early on the Raptors really focused on getting mismatches and trying to use their size to overwhelm Indiana and it worked to some extent as Toronto was able to keep it within two after the opening quarter.
The second quarter was where Toronto was really able to separate from Indiana by once again punishing them on the inside. We saw some vintage Thadeus Young buckets as he scored 10 points in the second quarter through an array of post hooks and floaters. We also got 8 points from Malachi Flynn who showed some really nice touch on a couple of finishes. The Raptors defense was also doing their usual force turnovers scheme and was able to get Indiana to cough it up 8 times. Toronto went into the half on a high note, They had held Haliburton to 0 points and Mathurin to 2 points in the half as they cruised to a 13 point halftime lead.
The third quarter was where things took a turn for the worse for Toronto. Coming out of the half just didn’t defend well. There were a lot of transition looks where Toronto wasn’t able to get back and this allowed a lot of wide open threes which Indiana cashed in on. It was a shock for the Raptors to be burned in transition but it wasn’t really a shock when Indiana was able to get good looks inside. When you’re missing two of the best helpers on defense there are going to be plays where the backline just isn’t enough to get the stop. The only reason Toronto was able to keep the lead was due to more heroics from OG Anunoby who was still brutalizing Indiana in the paint. Indiana shot 6-11 from three in the third compared to Toronto’s 2-14 and it seemed like due to the punishment they were taking inside, Indiana just allowed Toronto to shoot more threes.
The 4th quarter is where the Toronto Raptors crumbled and ultimately lost the game to Indiana. I’ve watched most Toronto games this season and this was by far the worst defensive quarter I’ve seen them play. Whether it was failing to get back in transition or simply losing track of their man in the halfcourt, Toronto gave up 36 points and another 5 threes to Indiana in this quarter but this time there was no firepower on offense to match, Chris Boucher went cold, Scottie just never found his footing and was missing some bunnies around the rim, all the shooters went cold, it was just a disastrous 4th quarter for Toronto and it ultimately lost them the game.
It’s one thing to lose a game you never really had a chance in but it’s another thing for you to blow a lead and just show little to no proficiency on defense. Indiana in the second half simply outclassed Toronto and added to their loss column by forcing them to take the looks they wanted to give up and firing away from three. Safe to say the injuries to the roster have had a huge effect on this team and all we can do is hope for speedy recoveries.