This game was a prototype of how the Raptors want to look on offence.
Toronto got to the line, shot over 40 percent from three and dished out 29 assists. Every starter scored at least 16 points. The 128 total came free flowing, sometimes matching Oklahoma City’s frenetic third ranked pace for entertaining sequences in the second quarter. There weren’t iso “where the hell is this possession going” type scenarios. Even on misses, Toronto crashed the glass for 19 offensive boards. As a result, the Raps scored at least 29 in every quarter, taking a 20 point lead in the fourth to wrap up the game. Toronto moves within a half game of Atlanta for eighth in the East, but the Hawks hold the 2-1 season tie breaker.
All-Star P. Skills returns
Pascal snapped out of his biggest funk of the season. Siakam had been averaging 15 points on 41 percent from the field over the previous six games. Pascal only ended up with 12 against Denver on Tuesday despite the team’s first quarter explosion.
Siakam got back on track by drawing fouls and attempting six free throws in the first quarter. He shot just five in the previous four games combined. He only made two of them (finished the game 4-8) but mentioned after the game how rare its been to get there recently.
Then the scoring picked up. Siakam had a beautiful spin moved chained into a euro step for a basket, followed by an encouraging pullup elbow jumper that hasn’t been falling lately.
Siakam also stuffed the stat sheet in other ways, adding 14 rebounds (five offensive) and eight assists. Pascal pushing the ball or taking advantage of extra sets of eyes watching him set up teammates for open threes in the second half. One of those passes below was to Gary Trent Jr, who came in on a 5-29 slump over his last three games. Gary also bounced back with 23 points on 8-11 shooting and four treys.
Defence to Offence
Raptors basketball at its peak. Jakob Poeltl and O.G. Anunoby had the two best highlights of the game, both coming after stops. Toronto outscored OKC in the fast break points category 23-6.
I don’t know if O.G. smiled after that dunk. Maybe internally.
Dealing with Shai
The best Canadian basketball player in the world currently gave the Raptors fits in the first half. Fred VanVleet said he felt like he did a good job guarding Gilgeous-Alexander post game, but then looked up and saw that Shai was 9-10 in the first half for 19 points.
Some of those shots were tough. Shai uses his first step to slither past defenders for creative finishes unlike almost any other guard today. Ja Morant also lives in the paint but relies more on raw explosion and athleticism.
The Raptors funneled more attention Shai’s way in the second half. Anunoby guarded SGA more until picking up his fifth foul. Gilgeous-Alexander still finished with a solid 29 points on 12-19 shooting, but went 3-9 in the second half.
Nick Nurse is used to Gilgeous-Alexander more than most through Team Canada. He acknowledged that Shai is simply a tough cover regardless but explained the second half adjustments.
Just a quick note that Christian Koloko was the backup big, logging 12 minutes to Achiuwa’s zero. Precious is only averaging four points in 14 minutes this month. Something to monitor, as Nurse said a couple days ago that he may put Achiuwa on the wing.
Up Next: Tough weekend back to back coming up. Hosting Minnesota, then on the road at Milwaukee.
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