The Raptors checkmate the Kings

Toronto stifles Sacramento's potent offense in their blowout win.

The Toronto Raptors began a 7 game west coast road trip last night with a showdown against the Sacramento Kings and it went way better than anyone could have expected. The name of yesterday’s game was defense and for once, Toronto seemed to be completely competent on that end. The Sacramento Kings are one of the NBA’s high powered offenses so you wouldn’t expect Toronto to hold them to under 100 points. 

A huge part in stifling the Kings offense was swarming a major cog in it in Domantas Sabonis. Sacramento likes to initiate a lot of their offense through post looks for him or screening actions for him and Toronto simply did not let him get any favorable matchups most of the time, when he would get the ball there would be a second guy ready to jump him. This of course requires the rotations after to be on point so you don’t give up an advantage and the Raptors had that last night. 

Another part of the lopsided victory was all the turnovers they forced. Sacramento had 19 turnovers and this performance was reminiscent of last year’s Toronto Raptors who used turnovers to jump start their offense and win games. Sabonis alone had 9 turnovers and this was because of all the attention they gave him on the ball. 

Another thing that swung the game in Toronto’s favor was winning the rebounding battle. Grabbing offensive rebounds is another thing that Toronto strives to do along with forcing turnovers and with them succeeding at both of these things last night it led to the large discrepancy in field goal attempts between the team. Toronto had 97 shot attempts and Sacramento had 73 shot attempts which is staggering because they attempted 87.4 shots per game this season. So to hold a team to about 14 less shot attempts than they usually get goes a long way for your defense.

Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa, Chris Boucher were all a part of the shutting down of Sabonis. Toronto also did a really nice job of scram switching Fred VanVleet out of any undesirable matchups. This was one of the best defensive performances of the season, the team seemed like a unit, rotations were crisp, effort was there, just a wonderful defensive performance.

The third quarter was where things got out of hand for the Kings. They were held to a mere 17 points while Toronto had 26 which Pascal had 14 of. After this quarter the Kings were never really back into it despite some late rallies in the 4th quarter. Once again the bench gave the offense a nice spark, 19 from Precious and 16 from Boucher. The playmaking was really great last night as well with a combined 22 assists between VanVleet, Barnes, and Siakam, they were spraying it out to shooters and finding guys in transition all night. Last night was just a really complete game from Toronto and you’re going to need performances like this in order to get back to .500 and to survive this road trip.

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