Fan Duel Toronto Raptors


Shorthanded Raptors Put Up Great Effort Against Nuggets

Toronto made the reigning champs sweat with a very shorthanded roster.

Last night the Toronto Raptors headed into Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado to face off in a bout against Nikola Jokic and the reigning NBA Champion Denver Nuggets. Heading into this game it was learned that the Raptors would be immensely shorthanded as injuries would cause an absurd amount of their rotation players to miss the game. The injury list featured Scottie Barnes, Immanuel Quickley, Gary Trent Jr, Jakob Poetl, and Chris Boucher. This caused Toronto to have to play a lot of players who normally wouldn’t be part of the rotation but surprisingly, Toronto gave the Nuggets a real scare. Led by Kelly Olynyk, RJ Barrett, and Gradey Dick, Toronto made Denver dig deep in order to pull out this win.

In the early moments of the game it was a shock that it was as close as it was. Although Toronto wasn’t getting many stops defensively, as they were allowing Aaron Gordon to dominate down low, Toronto was also running a high powered offense. It wasn’t just one guy for Toronto who was keeping them ahead of the Nuggets, but it was truly a group effort. Barrett was muscling his way to the rim, Olynyk was burning Denver from outside, Dick was impacting the game on both ends, Bruce Brown was getting into the teeth of the defense, it was really an all hands on deck type of start for Toronto. 

The second quarter is where things got ugly quickly for Denver. Denver couldn’t buy a shot in this quarter and their defense seemed very lackadaisical. Multiple times there were free runs to the rim and virtually unchallenged possessions in transition, Toronto never took their foot off the gas in this period and that led to them garnering a 17 point lead at halftime. At this point in the game, Toronto had done a great job forcing plenty of Nuggets turnovers which in turn led to easier scoring opportunities for them, while also limiting their own turnovers somewhat.

The third quarter is where Denver started to show a bit more fight, especially Nikola Jokic who scored 19 points in this quarter alone. Toronto wasn’t done fighting either as Kelly Olynyk scored 14 of his points in this quarter and did not allow Denver to get back into this game unchecked. Jamal Murray also joined the battle with 9 points in this period, but even with all this fight, Toronto was still in control of this game heading into the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter was where Toronto lost this game. The offense besides RJ Barrett had lost its juice and Jamal Murray was bombarding them with an onslaught on mid range jumpers. In the final moments of the game Toronto still had a chance to win, but as there was about a minute left on the clock, Michael Porter Jr. hit a corner three that all but sealed the game for them.

This was an incredibly fun game in which there are a lot of positives that can be gleaned from it. Gradey Dick was showing high level shot making skills and feel, while also impacting the game defensively, mostly off the ball, RJ Barrett looked very comfortable attacking the Denver defense and once again had a strong playmaking game as well, a lot of the bench guys like Jontay Porter and Jalen McDaniels added a well needed boost to the team during their minutes. Although they ultimately did not get the win, for this game to have gone the way it did against the defending NBA champions with most of your rotation out due to injury is a serious positive for the Toronto Raptors.