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Five Thoughts on Yesterday Afternoon: Raptors 132, Knicks 106

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The Toronto Raptors took care of business in Madison Square Garden, beating the Knicks 132-106. We’ve got five quick thoughts on the latest blowout.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t think anyone would’ve been shocked if the Toronto Raptors had experienced a letdown on Sunday after Friday night’s big win. But they were all business and used a strong second half to handle the New York Knicks 132-106.

Sunday Matinees can be a Little Rough

These early Sunday games are typically terrible, and this one had even more potential to be a snooze-fest, given the start of daylight savings time. But although both teams took a couple minutes to get going, and although the Raptors’ three highest paid players were less than stellar, this one wasn’t that bad overall! Both teams shot the ball fairly well on the whole, and both had stretches of energetic defense.

I mean, it wasn’t great, but come on — it’s a low bar for Sunday games.

Some matinee cities are worse than others, of course; Toronto isn’t known as White Vegas for nothing, after all, and of course New York is right on up there. Serge Ibaka and DeMar DeRozan looked to be feeling the nightlife in their 9-for-30 shooting day. Even Kyle Lowry took the whole first half to get going, perhaps shaking off a night celebrating Villanova’s victory on Saturday.

Good thing the Raps opened the lead up in the third quarter and the bench took it to New York in the fourth to give the starters the fourth quarter off!

Bench Mob 4 Lyfe

This was yet another showcase game for the Raptors’ second unit, as they barely missed a shot and blew the Knicks away in the second half. As usual, there were highlights all around as every sub had a chance to contribute.

I was, like many others, pleasantly surprised that Delon Wright was available; he looked to be a scratch but was a late addition to the lineup, and he played great. He used his crossover/Euro-step twice in the first half to create space for himself, had a spin move into a finger roll, and drained both 3-pointers he took. He kept it going in garbage time too, with a nice dish to Malcolm Miller for a dunk.

Speaking of Miller, he drained two more threes (one of which should have been a four-point play, the other a first-half buzzer beater); he’s got a real nice stroke, and I’m beginning to think he might be an asset in the playoffs, should the Raps go cold from deep.

And how about Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl? It’s clear these two have developed a nice chemistry, as they found each other on back-to-back hoops in the second quarter. Siakam finished with a 9-7-6 in just 18 minutes! The sweetest of those 6 assists had to be his no-look in transition to Fred VanVleet in the corner, who drained a three.

The Raps also have tonight and tomorrow night to enjoy NYC as they play Brooklyn on Tuesday, so hopefully the Bench Mob can get a turn at taking in a little nightlife!

Is Norman Powell Back to Being Norman Powell?

That’s three straight pretty good games for Norman Powell in the starting small forward spot. Sure, the numbers may not look great—7 points yesterday, a mere 2 on Friday—but he’s passed the “eye test” lately, whereas earlier he just looked completely lost at times.

It’s clear in Dwane Casey’s eyes too, it seems, as Norm has played his three highest minute totals in these past three games since February 1st. And it’s surely Powell’s defensive efforts that have earned the trust back; even when he’s not stopping his opponent (hi, James Harden) Powell is constantly fighting through screens, staying on his assignments’ hip, and doing what he can to make things difficult.

The effort is a great example to his young teammates, and Eric Smith indicated on the broadcast that OG Anunoby had told him as much.

So good for Powell, I hope it’s an upward trend that continues into the postseason.

Sometimes it’s Kinda Fun to Watch Tanking Teams

While the late stages of an NBA season can be a drag, there is a sort of charm to it; it’s like a full game’s worth of garbage time. Guys are just out there getting theirs, jacking up shots, random dudes you never heard of are getting long runs, teams aren’t really running any plays. It reminds me of summertime pickup games.

That’s what leads to Trey Burke, Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay and Luke Kornet shooting 47 times, and Isaiah Hicks and Troy Williams playing 11 and 6 minutes.

Also worth asking: How did six Knicks put up 9+ shots and Michael Beasley wasn’t one of them?

It’s almost “Magic Number” Time

OK, maybe it’s a little early for that. But I did spend a a few minutes trying to figure out the right combination of Raptor wins and Celtic losses it would take for the Raptors to clinch the 1-seed in the east. It looks to be 13, currently, which is too high to start counting down just yet.

Still, wouldn’t it be nice to have that top seed clinched by March 31, when the Raptors next play the Celtics? It’d require the Celtics going into a slump (say 2-6) and the Raptors staying hot (like, 7-2). But hey, we can dream.

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Scoreboard watching aside, we should all take a moment just to appreciate how good this team is and how much fun it is to watch a winner. We’ve been subjected to some pretty bad seasons around here, so let’s not take this fun, talented, winning team for granted!