Quick Reaction: Raptors 102, Nets 106

Quickley is good. Very good, even. Not a loss that matters

Box Score
O. Agbaji34 MIN, 7 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 3-6 FG, 0-1 3FG, 1-1 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -4 +/-

A really competent game. Just, solid. His defense was terrific. He ran a ton of 45 cuts to pry open space for others, even when he didn’t see the ball. He bullied Dennis Schroder on a switch to finish and-1. He is the last bruising wing on the team with Barnes out, and he bruised. When the shooting comes around (if), he’ll be one of Toronto’s most important players.

G. Temple36 MIN, 3 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 1-6 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, -11 +/-

Game-saving steal and a game-losing blocked shot (against). Damn. Got GOT on his first possession guarding Claxton on a switch. Claxton put him on the rim and gentle dunked on him. In the second quarter, Temple poked the ball when Claxton spun. What a vet.

M. Williams24 MIN, 7 PTS, 14 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 3-10 FG, 1-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 0 +/-

He really attacked the offense glass. But he opted almost exclusively for soft finishes, going for jump hooks on everything. Opened himself up to getting blocked. So did everyone, but Williams has the size to put the ball in the hoop strong. But then he hit an open triple, which is a very nice thing. On the other end, his defense was great, with good physical verticality warding players from the rim.

G. Dick33 MIN, 24 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 9-20 FG, 6-14 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -2 +/-

Career high in triples attempted, made. It was pretty clear he’d get there right off the bat, as he got up a triple per minute early on. He was equally a victim of Brooklyn’s rim protection, but he hit his triples, so it didn’t matter so much for him. The defense wasn’t there, as Schroder especially blew past him in isolation, but that’s kind of to be expected. His shooting was kind of Toronto’s best offensive weapon, and that’s always fun.

I. Quickley34 MIN, 32 PTS, 7 REB, 9 AST, 1 STL, 10-24 FG, 4-11 3FG, 8-8 FT, 1 BLK, 4 TO, 5 +/-

There were two teams in this one for Toronto. One with Quickley, which was very competitive and competent on both ends. And one without Quickley. Which, uhh, struggled. But Quickley picked his spots. He drove to create, particularly blazing past switches without any fancy dribbling moves. Just speed past them. The shooting efficiency wasn’t there, but the organization was immaculate, and he was the only one creating advantages at all. He was maybe the best player in the game, and he could have been the best by a mile if shooting variance had gone his way. He also answered a Schroder go-ahead triple with an immediate killer pull-up to retake the lead. Then dimed Dick for the same after Schroder hit another.

J. Freeman-Liberty24 MIN, 12 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 4-8 FG, 2-4 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 2 +/-

He played for his first stretch alongside Quickley, which was a big boost. He’s not an advanced playmaker or floor reader, and having a point guard to initiate and create advantages let Freeman-Liberty attack to score without complicating things. Later, he drilled a corner 3 that Nwora created for him. When he created for himself, it generally resulted in zero-pass possessions or reset shot clocks. Defensively he tried super hard, even breaking up a transition sure-thing from Brooklyn by tipping away a pass over his head.

M. Gueye23 MIN, 3 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1-7 FG, 0-0 3FG, 1-1 FT, 2 BLK, 0 TO, -4 +/-

His first minute on the court, he caught the ball and dashed to the rim, looking like he was trying to dunk the world. He got undercut and ended up finishing an and-1 floater, but he was ready to finish strong. On the defensive end, he was overmatched at times against Brooklyn’s size and the speed of the NBA game. He misread some pick-and-roll coverages as the big, but honestly, that’s life. It’s one of the hardest things in the game, and he hasn’t seen enough NBA minutes to expect success there. Players finished through him, as his verticality kind of just got pushed over by hard drives.

J. McDaniels14 MIN, 3 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 0-3 FG, 0-1 3FG, 3-4 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 0 +/-

He doesn’t look engaged out there. Trying to fit in and find his lanes, but he’s either doing too much or too little. Plus there’s a lid on the rim for him. It’s hard out there, and the NBA is unforgiving. He’s going through it right now.

J. Nwora18 MIN, 11 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 4-10 FG, 2-5 3FG, 1-2 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -6 +/-

He has been passed in the rotation by Agbaji in a big way. Drilled a pull-up triple as his first shot, which, man, what a helpful thing to be able to do. He created well after that, getting an open corner 3 for Freeman-Liberty and then hitting Gueye on the roll for a layup (which was blocked). He made some defensive errors, but he had a beautiful block on Cam Thomas in isolation that was a genius defensive play.

Darko Rajakovic

A really competent effort from the Raptors. They were severely out-talented against Brooklyn, but they were the better team for the majority of the night. Brooklyn has their own issues, of course, but Toronto played really focused basketball on both ends. Toronto struggled against switches early, but Rajakovic found answers with multiple screens to get the matchups that benefited Quickley. Toronto didn’t win, but it played fun basketball despite missing many of its best players.

Things We Saw

  1. Claxton gave Toronto a lot of trouble. He ate switches, finishing over Garrett Temple easily. And when Toronto was trying to score, he swatted the weak scoops and floaters from smaller players. Toronto just doesn’t have many players who can go up big over bigs, so Claxton feasted. As did Clowney. And Sharpe. The Raptors were soft trying to finish around the rim. Then the getting blocked thing ended the game, so it ended up being important. Size is important! The Raptors used to have it, and traded it all for shooting. Which is also important. But having both would be best!
  2. To end the third quarter, Quickley fully looked off a wiiiiiiide open McDaniels in the strong corner to launch a contested pull-up 2-pointer. I’m not stating a preference one way or the other, but it was funny. (McDaniels picked him up right after the play, so no beef or anything like that.)
  3. Schroder went nuts in the fourth. Hit a pair of triples then tricked Dick to create a layup on the turnaround on the baseline. I wouldn’t blame him for Toronto trading him away. Quickley had an answer every time. What a microcosm! What an allegory! What a game. (One of his answers was fouling the bejesus out of him that went uncalled, but nevertheless.)
  4. Of course, Schroder won in the end. Not sure what that is supposed to represent in this microcosm.