The story we’ll be buzzing about until opening night next Thursday is going to be the depth of this Raptors team. Yeah, we’ve been talking about it for years now, but tonight against the Pelicans it was on display in a slightly different, but equally dominant way. The offensive efficiency was blistering throughout the game (21 fast-break points), with the Raptors managing to score at least 30 points in each quarter.
Even with a lineup featuring the likes of Jordan Loyd, Kay Felder, Greg Monroe, Eric Moreland and Lorenzo Brown — the Raptors (905) were able to score at will. Whether you attribute this offensive display to the coaching staff, or to the horrid New Orleans defense (and to be fair, the Raptors played very little defense themselves), one thing is clear — the message that first year head coach Nick Nurse is attempting to drill into the heads of his players is getting through.
New Orleans looked ragged, to be perfectly honest. This isn’t the same team — especially on defense — that we saw win game after spirited game en route to nearly 50 wins. Anthony Davis ended up playing 31 minutes in the team’s final preseason game, including minutes played in the fourth quarter. It was an embarrassing sign for the Pelicans — it could be a long season.
After being outscored 37-31 in the first quarter, the Raptors went on to win the second quarter by nine (36-27), the third by two, and the fourth by ten. Long story short: after the first quarter, the Raptors dominated this game.
OG Anunoby and CJ Miles each hit three 3-point shots in the first half, although it was Anunoby who cooled down after the break, hitting just one more shot the rest of the way — it was a good one though:
Miles meanwhile continued to look like a renewed man with a better sense of his play-style than the player we saw last season. Looking younger and in better shape, Miles is ready to play a huge role off the bench for the Raptors this season. His night ended at halftime, finishing with 14 points on 5-of-7 from the field in 11 minutes of action.
Pascal Siakam showed off an unbelievable offensive burst to open the game, as he took defenders off the dribble, nailed his free throws and knocked down a triple. Overall he was spectacular — including 20 points, five boards, three assists and two steals in just 18 first half minutes.
That wasn’t the only play Siakam made in the second quarter:
Runway is clear for takeoff ️ pic.twitter.com/FdBhw1J1Uz— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 12, 2018
Siakam was truly unbelievable. He looked every bit the part of the leader he was during the Raptors 905 championship run a year and a half ago, quarterbacking an astonishing offensive pace in his 28 minutes of floor time. He continually pushed the tempo either with his passing (6 assists), or by flying coast to coast after pulling down one of his 11 rebounds.
His energy tonight was unmatched, as his 12 free throws show, giving Anthony Davis — an MVP candidate — a run for his money all evening (*also, it’s preseason). I’ll add one thing: once Siakam learns how to finish around the basket, he won’t need a three-point shot. In fact, whichever develops first will become one of the most dangerous offensive weapons on the entire Raptors roster. Siakam finished the game with a team-leading 21 points (matched by Malachi Richardson).
I want to dedicate at least a paragraph to roster-hopeful Eric Moreland. Moreland is a special talent — he’s clearly an incredibly athletic big, but there has to be a reason he’s never gotten consistent minutes in the NBA. So far, we haven’t seen enough to know why he hasn’t played much in the past, but I do think we’ve seen enough to justify handing him a roster spot. He played a great game and made more than a few positive plays tonight.
I’ll be honest: I stopped watching the potentially illegal CCTV stream after about three minutes into the third quarter until the midway point of the fourth because it was a painfully annoying in-arena-but-actually-at-home experience. I won’t go into details, except to say that the regular season can’t come soon enough.