The Raptors 905 finished the season with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference but still finished fourth in playoff seeding due to the Westchester Knicks winning the 905’s division. With that, the Knicks got the bye and the 905 had to play a one-game playoff at home against the Grand Rapids Drive.
Before the game even began the Drive were dealing with a tremendous amount of adversity, with the recent shocking death of swingman Zeke Upshaw. Grand Rapids was wearing a Zeke patch on their jerseys, and there was a moment of silence before the game.
To open the game, the Drive came out flying, lead by Landry Nnoko who was outmatching Kennedy Meeks in the post which is not something often seen in the G League. On top of that, the 905’s G League-leading defense was struggling to contain Kay Felder and Bronson Koening — who came off the bench — and were lights out from beyond the arc, with Koening knocking down his first three shots from beyond the arc. The Drive shot an impressive 54 percent from the field after the first quarter.
A general theme in this one was that Lorenzo Brown could not deal with Felder’s speed while Felder could not guard Brown on the other end, leaving the two point guards to go at it. Felder was causing all kinds of problems for the 905 throughout the game. He’d finish with a game-high 24 points, along with eight rebounds and eight assists, as a huge part of Grand Rapids’ early success. Fortunately, Brown matched him in the points column.
While Felder and Brown were going at it, the 905 needed to rely on other players. Unfortunately, Alfonzo McKinnie, Malcolm Miller and Davion Berry were really struggling and had a combined 10 points until the fourth quarter. But as luck would have it, Malachi Richardson showed up and proved himself to be an above-average three-point shooter. He was really clutch for the 905, shooting 3-of-6 from three, and 6-of-11 from the field for 15 points in just 17 minutes. Along with Aaron Best, who went 2-of-3 from deep, Richardson kept the 905 in it despite trailing through three quarters.
Entering the fourth head coach Jerry Stackhouse was visibly frustrated with the team's defense and overall play. The 905 were down four with 12 minutes to go. After that little pep talk, the 905 really turned the corner as McKinnie came alive and Fuquan Edwin started letting fly. Meanwhile, the Drive started to fade, as both Felder and Nnoko began to slow down, former Raptor K.J. McDaniels struggled, and Jameel Morris was hurt earlier in the game.
The 905 finally got the lead in the game with just over six minutes to go. And after that, much like their big-league counterparts, the 905 took control of the game, pushing the lead to six at one point late. After Brown split a pair of free throws it was still a one-possession game however. But after a missed Drive three, Edwin came up with a clutch rebound, was fouled, sent to the line, and the 905 won the game 92-88.
The 905 will have a tough task against the Knicks in the second round of the playoffs — which is also a one-game series — after splitting the season series 2-2. During the game, however, the 905 got some good news as former Raptor Nigel Hayes was signed to the Sacramento Kings for the rest of the season. That game will happen on Monday night at 7pm. Get ready!
- Kennedy Meeks played a really good game with 12 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes, while Shevon Thompson chipped in with eight points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes.
- After a poor three quarters, McKinnie really picked it up in the fourth and finished with 11 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes.
- Miller and Berry struggled a bit in this one as they combined for just nine points.
- Kethan Savage was inactive in this one, while Andre Washington and Negus Webster-Chan were hit with DNP-CDs.