RAPTORS RECAP- SCARF KINGS HELP KEEP UP THE WINNING WAYS
Week Record (3-0)
Overall Record (39-14)
So are the Raptors ever going to lose again?
I continue to find myself amazed with this team and it’s resiliency to withstand the comical amount of injuries and just keep winning. Every key member of the rotation has missed time, Terence Davis is the only Raptor to appear in every game this season. People REALLY thought this team would miss the playoffs.
Wednesday, February 5th – Toronto Raptors vs. Indiana Pacers – W (119-118)
After the Pacers extended their lead to 19 during the third quarter it seemed like the Raptors were done. But they rallied back in the fourth quarter due to the heroics of Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Ibaka missed his last five of six shots from three but hit one to give the Raptors the lead with 30 seconds left. He also finished with 15 points in the fourth quarter, 30 overall (which is a season high) along with seven rebounds and three assists. Lowry finished with 32 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and two steals. What caused this lead was the Pacers hitting 19 for 39 from three. The Pacers only shoot 28 threes per game which ranks second-last, just ahead of the Knicks. Justin Holiday made six, while Doug McDermott and Malcolm Brogdon made four in the loss.
Friday, February 7th – Indiana Pacers @ Toronto Raptors – W (115-106)
On Friday, the Raptors handed the Pacers their fourth straight loss, three of those at home in Indianapolis. Serge Ibaka, once again was pivotal with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Fred VanVleet, stepping up for the injured Kyle Lowry was also crucial with 20 points. Lowry left the game in the third quarter with whiplash after crashing into Serge Ibaka. Indiana made it within two points, but the Raptors went on a 12-4 run that extended the lead to 10 with less than two minutes left. Terence Davis added 17 off the bench, OG Anunoby and Kyle Lowry had 16 apiece, and Pascal also had 15. He got poked in the eye from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in the first half. In the second half he only hit one shot. Kyle Lowry also passed Vince Carter on the Raptor’s all-time scoring list. He’s now third, behind Chris Bosh and DeMar DeRozan.
Saturday, February 8th – Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets – W (119-118)
This time it was the Raptors turn to blow a lead. After being up 18 at one point, Nets guards Caris Levert and Spencer Dinwiddie led them on a run in the fourth quarter, including Levert scoring on three straight possessions to tie it up at 118. On the other end, Pascal Siakam got fouled, split the free throws, and Brooklyn came down the other end. As Fred VanVleet said in his post-game interview, OG Anunoby asked to guard Levert, knowing the ball would be in his hands. He forced him into a tough shot, but the ball ended up in 3-Point Contest champion Joe Harris on a rebound, who missed the game-winning layup. Speaking of Fred, he finished with a team high 29 points and six assists, taking over lead ball-handling duties while Kyle Lowry is injured. Pascal Siakam and Terence Davis added 20 apiece, with the latter leading the team in rebounds with eight. Sharpshooter Matt Thomas added 15 off the bench, and Serge Ibaka also had 12.
Player of the Week – Fred VanVleet
It was difficult to pick a Raptor for this at first thought, but then it became clear to me that Fred VanVleet was the guy. Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam were definitely worth some consideration, but Lowry’s injury and Siakam’s inefficient play of late made it difficult to pick them. That leaves Fred, who was my Key Contributor last week. After Lowry’s injury in Indiana on Friday, his presence was much-needed to calm down the Raptors on the court. The ball does tend to stick in his hands when he runs point, but more times than not he makes the right play. He’s also been great from three during this stretch, going 2 for 5, 3 for 7, and 5 for 8.
Honorable Mentions: Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam
Key Contributor – Terence Davis
It’s only fair that Fred VanVleet’s prodigy move up to Key Contributor. When Norman Powell got hurt in Detroit, it made sense as a logical progression that Terence would take his place. But when Kyle got hurt, Terence would have to step up into the starting lineup. This rise is eerily similar to Fred’s; taking advantage of the opportunities on the court due to the injuries of other players. Once the rotation is full and healthy (barring a buyout move), Terence should be the eight man after Serge Ibaka and Norman.
Honorable Mentions: Serge Ibaka, OG Anunoby
Standout Performance – Matt Thomas’ 15 points
With the injuries to Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell, another guard had to step up for the bench with scoring. That won’t be Patrick McCaw, so it had to be Matt Thomas. Luckily, scoring comes easy for Thomas. Nick Nurse made the ballsy decision of an all “bench” lineup of him, Patrick McCaw, Oshae Brissett, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris Boucher when Fred picked up two quick fouls. At first it was rough, with the Raptors unable to figure out the zone defense that the Nets were playing. But once they got out into transition, the Raptors were able to capitalize on open looks or to draw fouls. That lineup got extended time on the court, with Matt Thomas being the shining star. He also got some run with the starters, which is a lineup that could be used more given the injuries on the team.
Best Opposing Player/Performance – Caris Levert’s career high 37 points
Caris Levert has been on a tear for this past week, and the Raptors just happened to be in his way. Despite the missed game-winner, he broke his career-high Saturday night. Levert is a super interesting player for this Brooklyn Nets team once everyone is healthy. Another ball-handler and shot creator, his length makes him a mismatch at the shooting guard position. His superstar-like run in the fourth quarter was hard to watch as a Raptors fan, with him just getting to any spot on the court.
Honorable Mentions: Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Spencer Dinwiddie
- The New York Knicks fired President of Basketball Operations Steve Mills on Tuesday. Immediately after the firing it was reported that Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri would be the top target, with at least some interest reciprocated. Ujiri does not want to discuss a new contract with the Raptors until the summer of 2020 according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet. These rumors will continue until Ujiri makes a decision, no matter what the team. The Knicks are rumoured to hire longtime agent Leon Rose instead for the job, following the model of the Lakers and Warriors.
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson made his return to the lineup Wednesday against Indiana. Malcolm Miller was also activated
- Giannis Antetokounmpo picked Raptors’ All-Stars Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry to play on his team at the All-Star Game in Chicago next weekend. Raptors coach Nick Nurse will coach the team.
- Kyle Lowry left Friday’s game in Indiana with a whiplash injury caused by an accidental collision with Serge Ibaka. No word yet on a return to action.
- Despite being reported that Marc Gasol would return on Wednesday, he did not play in any of the games this week. It’s more likely that they’ll rest him and bring him back after the All-Star break.
- Tuesday night a 12-player trade between the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets took place. Houston got Robert Covington and Jordan Bell (who was moved to Memphis) from Minnesota, as well as a Golden State second round pick from Atlanta. Atlanta got Clint Capela and Nene from Houston. Minnesota got Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, and Jarred Vanderbilt from Denver as well as Evan Turner and Brooklyn’s 2020 first-round pick from Atlanta. Denver got Shabazz Napier (who was moved to Washington), Noah Vonleh, and Keita Bates-Dip from Minnesota as well as Gerald Green and a 2020 first-round pick from Houston. This was the trade with the most pieces since Patrick Ewing’s trade to the SuperSonics in 2000.
- Atlanta wasn’t done though, they reacquired Dewayne Dedmon for Alex Len and Jabari Parker. The Hawks also got two second rounders in the deal.
- The Philadelphia 76ers acquired Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson from the Golden State Warriors for three second round picks (Dallas 2020, Denver 2021, and Toronto 2022)
- The Miami Heat traded Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, and James Johnson to the Memphis Grizzlies for Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, and Solomon Hill. The Grizzlies subsequently traded James Johnson to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Gorgui Dieng and bought out Dion Waiters.
- The Timberwolves finally got the point guard they’ve wanted. Minnesota acquired D’Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans, and Omari Spellman for Andrew Wiggins, and both of their selections in the 2021 draft; a protected first round pick and a second rounder.
- The Pistons fgot rid of Andre Drummond, but for a pitiful return. They traded the former All-Star to the Cleveland Cavaliers to John Henson, Brandon Knight, and a second round pick in 2023. Reports say Drummond will likely pick up his player option.
- Long-sought after Clippers target Marcus Morris was finally sent to Los Angeles in a three team trade with the Knicks and Wizards. The Clippers sent Moe Harkless, their 2020 first rounder, swap rights to their 2021 first round pick, and a second round pick in the same year. They also sent Jerome Robinson to the Wizards for former All-Star Isaiah Thomas, who was waived.
- The Charlotte Hornets bought out veteran forwards Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Williams will sign with the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Mavericks are rumored to be interested in Kidd-Gilchrist.
- The NBA All-Star Draft took place Thursday night between Team LeBron and Team Giannis. Here’s the rundown of the teams:
- Monday, February 10th – Toronto Raptors vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
- Wednesday, February 12th – Brooklyn Nets @ Toronto Raptors
- Friday, February 14th – Sunday, February 16th – All-Star Weekend
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