Over the years the Raptors haven’t exactly made the weekend matinee games their forte, but maybe this year it’d be different. The pregame hope (for me anyways) was now that they have Kawhi Leonard, and are off to their best start in franchise history, they could play some clean basketball and just brush the Knicks off their shoulders.
But of course, even with all of that, the Raptors got off to their typical early afternoon sloppy fashion. Starting the game off with almost four minutes of scoreless basketball to go along with four turnovers. Thankfully, the Knicks were just as bad, as the game was only a 8-5 score after the first timeout.
A big flaw in the Raptors first half of play was their lack of rebounding. They got killed on the boards, giving up eight offensive boards in the first quarter alone. It was a big reason that the Knicks were able to hang around early. But the turning point in the first half was the return of the bench mob. OG Anunoby played like a man on a mission, leading the way with 11 first half points, and Delon Wright gave some great two-way minutes, hitting two threes and looking really confident with his shot.
The second half started similar to the first. Turnovers and lack of defense helped the Knicks go on a 12-4 run to start the half, forcing coach Nurse to call a timeout to stop the bleeding. I’d love to know what Nick Nurse said to the team during that timeout, because they kicked ass for the rest of the quarter. The guys played lock-down defense and it felt like Serge Ibaka and Danny Green couldn’t miss, as they outscored the Knicks 32-17 for the rest of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was just a mere formality, as they were able to keep the starters off the floor, and hold off the Knicks in a fairly easy fashion. We even got to see some garbage time minutes from Lorenzo Brown and Greg Monroe! It’s just a shame that even today, C.J. Miles couldn’t find a way to get his shot back on track.
It says a lot about this team that even when Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry don’t put up their usual gaudy numbers, they’re still able to lock in and blow out a team that they should have. They have a great mindset early this year, and have such great chemistry for a team that went through the kind of summer they did. It really is a joy to watch the Raptors play each night.
The Raptors are now 12-1, on a six game win streak, and look to finish off their three game home-stand in winning ways. Next up are visits from Anthony Davis and the Pelicans on Monday, and the return of Dwane Casey and the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
A Few Extra Thoughts:
- The Knicks broadcast team is a delight to listen to. There aren’t too many great League Pass tandems around the league, so when you get a chance to watch a game with Mike Breen and Clyde Frazier on the call, you have to take advantage.
- I’ll give some praise to the Knicks in this game. They’re young, fast, scrappy, tough, and they don’t give up on the game. A real credit to the early culture that new coach David Fizdale has brought to this team.
- It’s incredible how much better Pascal Siakam seems to be getting after every game. We’ve been in awe before on his ball handling and his knack for exploiting his mismatches, but today he went 3-of-4 from three on his way to a career high 23 points in only three quarters. The major flaw left in his game is his outside shot, and it’s easy to see how big of a force he can ultimately be if he can stretch the floor like he did today.