C.J. Leslie’s D-league career-high 33 points, along with eleven rebounds, helped power the Raptors 905 to the 109-84 obliteration of the Maine Red Claws in Game 1. The team is now within just a single victory of the D-League Finals.
Pascal Siakam used his NBA experience and led by example scoring 22 points while grabbing nine rebounds and Antwaine Wiggins added 13 off the bench for the 905, who have now won 11 straight games by an average of 14 points.
The game took its turn in the third quarter of action, as the 905 outscored the Red Claws 33-20 in a frame that included an 18-3 run, finally granting them some separation with a comfortable 19-point lead heading into the fourth.
The Raptors put on a defensive clinic, holding the Red Claws to just 37% shooting from the floor and just 27% from three-point range, while collecting 13 steals and holding Maine to just 40 second half points.
Abdel Nader (21.3 points per-game) and Jalen Jones (21 PPG) are the go-to scorers for the Red Claws, but were kept modest in this one, combining for just 23 points on an extremely rough 6-of-25 shooting.
Even in the face of losing two key players in Axel Toupane and Edy Tavares who were signed during the post-season (yep, that’s a thing) by New Orleans and Cleveland respectively, the 905 have continued to get the job done by committee.
It was Toupane who played hero in game one against Canton with the 41-point effort, Brady Heslip with 21 in game two and now Leslie with 33 points in the series opener against Maine.
John Jordan was called upon once again by head coach Jerry Stackhouse to start the game and delivered six points paired with six assists while providing another stellar performance on the defensive. Heslip was quiet off the bench scoring just ten points and going 1-of-8 from three, but his off night allowed the 905 to put their depth on display.
The Raptors began the series the same way that they ended the last, storming out to an 11-3 lead to start the first quarter and ending it on a 16-6 run, putting them up 29-17 entering the second.
The 905 struggled atypically to find their stroke from long distance early on, shooting just 4-of-21 from three-point range but made up for it on the glass, grabbing 12 offensive rebounds for 15 second chance points in the first half.
Jordan Mickey dropped 21 points and grabbed 11 boards for the double-double and the Celtics’ 16th pick overall in last year’s draft, Guerschon Yabusele, chipped in with nine points, four rebounds and a block for the Red Claws, who defeated the Fort Wayne Mad Ants 124-119 in a deciding third game last Wednesday night.
After setting a D-League record with 21 road wins this season, the Raptors have now won both of their playoff games away from home and remain undefeated this post-season.
Game 2 goes Wednesday at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga with a chance for the 905 to wrap things up at home.