Led by Axel Toupane’s game-high 41 points, the Raptors 905 withstood a late push from the Canton Charge to win their first ever playoff game 112-107 and move within one victory of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Despite an 11-2 Canton rally early in the fourth quarter that eventually claimed them a one point lead with eight minutes to play, the game never really felt as close. For the majority of time, the 905 appeared as the better team in most areas of the game. Toupane struck home an ice-in-veins jumper and quickly followed it up with a steal and another bucket for the sudden four-point swing late in the fourth that effectively putting this one to rest.
Here, you can play witness to greatness:
The game marked the first play-off contest in the young, two-season history of the 905. And, after an eight-game winning streak to end the regular season, they picked up right where they left off in Game 1 tonight, blitzing Canton on the offensive end and swallowing them whole on defense. After the first quarter of play, the 905 found themselves up 36-19 and held the Canton offense to shooting just 34% from the floor.
The Raptors were quick to assert themselves and set the tone early on, taking advantage of fast-breaks and running the floor with purpose.
Kay Felder has spent much of this season in the NBA providing relief for the back-court of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but was assigned to Canton for the playoffs — a place he enjoyed great success during the regular season, cashing in 29.9 points per game over the span of 11 contests.
A barrage of Felder threes brought the Charge back into the game as they opened the second quarter on a 17-6 run and reeled the Raptors back to within nine points. Toupane was right there to match him for the 905 however, as his 20 first half points led the Raptors on a 12-5 run to end the half with a comfortable 16-point lead, 61-45.
Felder finished the game with a team high 31 points and 12 assists and his back court counterpart Roosevelt Jones, chipped in with 12 points and a Westbrook-esque effort on the glass with 16 rebounds. But every time the Canton offense made any sort of run, the Raptors were right there to smother the fire, showing tremendous poise and confidence.
Raptor’s head coach Jerry Stackhouse opted to go with guard Brady Heslip off the bench, who despite starting 30 of 46 games for the 905 this season, embraced the role dropping 15 points on 4-8 from three-point land and tacked on four assists to boot. Down low, Eddy Tavares brought the energy for the 905 as the big man recorded 10 points and 16 rebounds to go along with three block and a whole lot of hustle. John Jordan got just his third start of the year in place of Heslip and scored eight points while collecting four assists in 17 minutes of action.
The 905 now improve to 36-1 when leading after the third quarter of play and 22-4 when playing away from home.
The two teams go again on Saturday night at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, in what has quickly become a must-win situation for the Charge and an opportunity to advance for the 905.