Last night’s game was a breath of fresh air, not only for the loyal fans of the Raptors, but for the players on the Raptors themselves. Toronto’s newly acquired big man Jakob Poetl made life so much easier on the offensive end and he was just a force in his own right. Many times his mere presence and stature on the floor were used as an outlet or a safety valve to guide Toronto to easy buckets. After dropping two games back to back to Orlando the last time these teams saw each other, everyone was on high alert and this win is not only important for the playoff hunt but it must induce a sigh of relief to defeat the team that has previously had your number.
Jakob dominated the game with 30 points and 6 blocks and his touch on offense was really shown all game long with his many floaters and jump hooks. It’s been quite some time since Toronto has had an interior presence like Jakob and his synergy with practically everyone last night looked very good. His teammates such as Fred VanVleet who had 15 assists last night were making it a point to get Jakob the ball with smaller matchups, Jakob as a high screener often slipped the screen and found himself with an advantage that used to get good looks at the rim, this was just the perfect Jakob game.
Jakob Poeltl in the Raptors win…— NBA (@NBA) February 15, 2023
15-17 FGM (88%)
He's the 4th player since 1973-74 to reach these thresholds! pic.twitter.com/nk67OMnCS6
The aforementioned Fred VanVleet didn’t shoot the ball well but he still found a way to impact the offense tremendously with his playmaking. He had 7 of his 15 assists in the first quarter alone and he just did a great job of getting the ball to his teammates in great spots, using shot fakes to pull the defense in, using the drive to swing it out to shooters, using the pick and roll and finding the roll man more often than not and like I mentioned before, finding Jakob under thee basket. This was a wonderful game by Fred the point guard, and the most assists this season for him as well.
Pascal Siakam quite simply torched the Orlando Magic from the mid range last night and this was some of his best shot making this season. He wasn’t getting to the rim very much so he often would just do a step back, raise up, and sink the middy over whoever was guarding him. The same outcome happened when Pascal turned his back and faded away for a mid range, Orlando could do little to stop him. Pascal had 26 points on 66.7% shooting going 10-15 from the field largely on jump shots and it was just a masterclass.
Toronto heads into the All-Star break with a 28-31 record and a 2 game winning streak looking to fight their way into the playoffs after the break. If last night’s game is any indicator of what this Raptors team will be moving forward it bodes very well.
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