You have to wonder if they can keep this up. The Toronto Raptors are 3-0 after having bested three of their supposed Eastern Conference rivals to open the season. In each game, different players have come alive at different times; the defense has been consistently excellent; and while they've had some ugly periods offensively, tonight's game against the Bucks had them rounding into some kind of form.
The key for this Raptors team appears to be balance. Where last year they'd look to Lou Williams or Greivis Vasquez to try and shoot them out of trouble, now the ball sings around the court. DeMarre Carroll moves it, Terrence Ross moves it, Kyle Lowry moves it. It's quite something to see. Yes, the ball still tends to stop in DeMar DeRozan's hands, but when you're shooting like he is (7-for-13 from the field), it's OK. Likewise Valanciunas, when the ball gets to him, it almost always feels like a good idea for him to lumber into his hook shot and make things happen. JV went for 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting, and tucked in eight rebounds as well (four offensive).
"I think we just went out there tonight and played our game," said Lowry afterwards, "We are getting a lot more comfortable with each other, feeling out where we are going to be and the spots on the floor where we need to be at." For his part, Lowry had 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting and seven assists, Ross, who was dormant for most of the game, went full Terry Time in the fourth, hitting multiple threes to put the game out of reach for Milwaukee. Last but not least, Patrick Patterson continued his hot-shooting ways, confirmed he is probably best off-the-bench, and dropped in 16 points (including four 3s). How's that for being where you need to be?
(On the other side of things: Bismack Biyombo set a new record for missing easy shots. He went 1-for-7 with his plays at the rim, missing a few in the most comical of ways. Still, he had 10 rebounds and a block and just tried so hard.)
The Greivis Vasquez Revenge game was not to be. Despite a Vasquez-led run in the early fourth quarter when the Bucks cut the Raps' lead to six, Toronto was never really in danger. Our old friend Greivis managed nine points on 2-for-7 shooting to go with four assists. The high man for the Bucks was Giannis Antetokounmpo with 20 points, nine rebounds and one insane chase down goaltend that terrified.
The Raptors are 3-0 and now prepare for a four-game road trip to Dallas, OKC, Orlando and Miami. "This road trip is going to be a bear, said Dwane Casey after the game, managing expectations. With the win, Casey became the winningest coach in Raptors history (passing Sam Mitchell). He's coaching a balanced team with what looks to be a powerful defense and rapidly improving offense. They are also started 3-0 for the first time since 2008.
"As Drake said, we started at the bottom but we're not there yet," said Casey. He's not wrong, but the here of the actual lyric looks pretty good so far.
What did you guys think of the game?