Although the Raptors 905 finished with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, they were the 4th seed entering the playoffs, since the top three seeds were division winners. At the top, was the Westchester Knicks, who got a bye through Round One but had to meet the 905 in the second round, for another one-and-done playoff series.
Given the quality of each team, this was set to be a good match-up. Two of the top teams — and top defenses — in the G League going heads up, winner take all. As one would expect, the defense really took centre stage in this one, as the pace was much slower — compared to the 905’s preview game against the Grand Rapids Drive — which favours the 905, who are one of the slowest teams in the league.
However, the Knicks still came out flying and got up 13-2 early after multiple costly mistakes by the 905. Mississauga’s squad looked lost early; they were struggling to make shots, committing bad turnovers, and simply not executing on defense. On top of that, the 905 were an awful 1-of-13 from three at the half.
After some time to settle down however, the 905 turned the corner, thanks in part to Lorenzo Brown, who finished with a team-high 18 points, along with seven rebounds and seven assists in 39 minutes. As has been the case throughout the season, Brown anchored the offense throughout the game.
Along with Brown, it was the 905’s bench and Kennedy Meeks who propelled the team to victory. Meeks and Shevon Thompson have been dominant this season, and once again showed why they are the best centre tandem in the G League. When Meeks checked out, Thompson brought the same level of intensity. Both were huge on the boards, together they gobbled up 21 rebounds, with 11 of them on the offensive end. Meanhile, Meeks and Thompson were also doing their part to shut down Luke Kornet, who has been one of the better players in the G League this season.
Kornet was bullied all night long in the paint on both ends of the floor and had 0 points on 0-of-9 shooting from the field — including 0-of-6 from three — for a -9 overall. Without Kornet producing the 905 really took control of the game as Meeks recorded a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds, while Thompson had 14 points and seven rebounds.
But much like the parent club, the real reason why the 905 won was due to the bench. Plain and simple, without the bench the 905 do not win this game as both Malcolm Miller and Aaron Best struggled on the offensive end.
To that end, Malachi Richardson was productive shooting the ball, while Davion Berry was his usual self and Fuquan Edwin was huge on the defensive end to shut down the Knicks. The bench went on huge runs for the 905, ultimately outscoring Westchester in the second half. The final tally: Richardson +20, Berry +11, Thompson +16, and Edwin +13 — there’s how the 905 clawed back from a huge deficit early in the game.
The 905 will now face the winner of tonight’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Erie BayHawks game in the Conference Finals. Tip-off is set for 8pm at Friday, April 6.
- After not really doing much in the regular season, Richardson is showing up in a big way in the playoffs. Against the Knicks, Richardson went 6-of-14 from the field and chipped in with 14 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes.
- Alfonzo McKinnie was big for the 905 with 10 points and 11 rebounds in 32 minutes.
- Davion Berry was once again huge off the bench, as he had 10 points in 22 minutes and captained the second unit.
- Miller struggled offensively with just 6 points in 31 minutes, but was huge defensively for the 905 as he helped shut down the Knicks offense.
- Kaza Keane only played three minutes, as coach Jerry Stackhouse decided to run with Brown and Berry as the point guards.
- Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Damyean Dotson and Isaiah Hicks were all huge for Westchester and kept them in the game all night long, as multiple Knicks struggled to score.
- Kethan Savage was inactive, while Andre Washington, Roger Moute a Bidas and Negus Webster-Chan were all hit with DNP-CDs.