After dominant wins over the Clippers and Warriors, there’s a sense of nirvana among Raptors fans as the team approaches the holiday season. Adding gravy to the turkey, though, has been the play of the 905. Paralleling the NBA squad, Raptors 905 pushed a win streak to seven games before losing last night to the West-leading Oklahoma City Blue.
Still, they’re 12-4 on the season and now tops in the Eastern Conference, a half game up on the Long Island Nets. They’re a perfect 8-0 on the road too, the only team left in the G League with a perfect record in that regard.
What’s the buzz this week otherwise? Well, an injured thumb for Jonas Valanciunas has been put in a cast and should keep the big man out for some time. This might mean an opportunity for Chris Boucher to get called up and bolster the Raptors’ frontcourt depth. While he’s still probably too skinny for the centre spot, there’s reasonable thought that he could play some floor-stretching power forward minutes with the bench.
That kind of move would change some trajectory for the 905 next week, but for now, let’s look back at the last seven days.
Friday, December 7 at Wisconsin Herd
A competitive game throughout, the 905 won this road game thanks to a nice stretch at the end of the game — a game tied at 85 with nine minutes left turned into an 11-point lead near the end. Leading the way was 26-year-old Rodney Pryor, who had 22 points on a blazing 9-for-13 off the bench, including this huge one-hander.
The win over the Bucks affiliate pushed the 905’s win streak to six and featured a balanced effort overall. Boucher had 19 points, shooting just 7-for-17, while Duane Notice had 20 and Deng Adel had 18. Given the dominance of Boucher and Loyd in recent weeks, it was welcome to see balanced scoresheet and a great shooting night from the 905 backcourt — the Raptors hit 40 per cent (16-of-40) of their triples.
Saturday, December 8 at Capital City Go-Go
In an example of odd G League scheduling, this matchup was just the tenth game of the season for the Capital City Go-Go, while it was the 15th for the 905. It was a more haggard game throughout, but especially in the first quarter, as the Raptors would tally just four points in the opening frame. For full box score madness, they followed that up with 34 points in the second quarter, actually tying the game at 38 at halftime.
Again, the Georgetown alum Pryor came up with a big contribution in a game where scoring was otherwise hard to come by. He had 19 points off the bench, second only to Jordan Loyd’s 21 points in the starting lineup. Incredibly though, Pryor marked a +29 in an 88-79 game.
Wednesday, December 12 vs. Oklahoma City Blue
Finally, we get to the big matchup of the week, which poetically took place on the same night as the Warriors met the Raptors in the Bay Area. West-leading Oklahoma City came into Paramount Fine Foods Centre to play the East-leading 905 and the result was an excellent game.
First off, Chris Boucher. After a couple sub-20-point games to start the week, Boucher shrugged off all preconceptions of a slump. He dropped an amazing, franchise-best 47 points on 28 shots, making 4-of-10 from three, adding eight rebounds and nine blocks.
Still, the Raptors had a tough time slowing down the Blue’s success. OKC shot over 50 per cent from the field, led by shooting guard Scotty Hopson, who made an outrageous 11-of-14 to score 26 points. 2018 Thunder draft pick Tyler Davis didn’t shoot quite as well inside, but had a big line of 24 points and 16 rebounds, also making 10-of-12 free throws. Davis also helped swing the team rebounding battle, as a 30-18 margin in the first half really benefitted the Blue.
Late in the game, the 905 came close — getting within three points — but the Blue ultimately shut the door. In support of Boucher’s outstanding game, Jordan Loyd had 32 points and 11 assists, as the two once again got into their old habit of dominating offensive output. The next closest scorer was Kyle Collinsworth, who had 11.
While the Wednesday loss stings, a seven-game win streak has the 905 in great position heading into a quieter week. They play Grand Rapids on Friday, then get four full days off before facing Memphis on December 19.