Once upon a time, the Toronto Raptors built their bones on the excitement of comeback wins. The 2019-20 Raptors set the franchise record with a 30-point comeback -- coming in the second half -- against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Kyle Lowry never quit.
Even last season, the Raptors had their fair share of excitement. A Jan. 29 game against the Miami Heat went to triple overtime before the Raptors pulled ahead behind an O.G. Anunoby dunk, a Fred VanVleet triple, and Pascal Siakam free throws. A Feb. 3 game against the Chicago Bulls saw Scottie Barnes put the ball back in the net on an offensive rebound with no time left on the clock to send the game to overtime, which Toronto won. Inpredictable, a live odds tracking site, called the first win the single most exciting game of the 2021-22 season, and the latter had a 2.5-percent chance of a Toronto victory before Barnes rebounded the miss.
Excitement used to be the calling card of this Raptors team. But the most exciting games of Toronto's 2022-23 season have had a habit of turning into losses. On Jan. 19, the Raptors gave up a double-digit, fourth-quarter comeback to the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Inpredictable ranks it the 18th-best comeback game of the 2022-23 season.) On Nov. 19, the 13th-most exciting game of the 2022-23 season saw the Raptors give up a seven-point lead to the Atlanta Hawks with under three minutes remaining.
In fact, prior to Toronto's incredible win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the team's only double-digit comeback in the second half came on Jan. 16 against the New York Knicks. Scottie Barnes and Fred VanVleet combined for 59 points, and even though Barnes gave up a preposterous transition dunk to RJ Barrett to tie the game in regulation, Anunoby hit a pair of triples in overtime to seal the win.
By and large, the Raptors have truly been the team of the fake comeback this season. The Raptors have the fourth-best clutch net rating on the year at +14.1 -- the best net rating for a team on the season is +6.1 -- yet at 14-18, the Raptors have the fifth-most clutch losses in the league. That stat is only possible because the Raptors stage so many comebacks late, coming back from large deficits and winning their minutes, only to fall short and lose anyway. (I know this is stupid, because Toronto doesn't begin clutch time on an even footing against opponents, but all else being equal a 14.1 net rating would yield something like 28-4 in the clutch over 32 games. So.)
And then against the Grizzlies, finally -- finally! -- a comeback meant the real thing for Toronto.
3 thoughts on “The Raptors, shockingly, win an exciting game behind Scottie Barnes”
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