For the second straight year, the Raptors 905 have lost the first game of the G League Finals. Last year, the 905 lost to the RGV Vipers before winning the final two games at home to win the then-D-League championship. However, this year the Finals series is now a 1-1-1 format, and after losing 105-93 to the Austin Spurs, the Raptors 905 will need to win at home and on the road if they are going to repeat as champions.
This one started out poorly from a fan perspective as the stream was apparently not working for people in Canada. (Luckily I eventually found a stream that did work.) Fans missed some energetic minutes of back-and-forth basketball. Those few minutes could describe the entire game, as it was a game of runs and a ton of back-and-forth with no team really taking control until the Spurs did in the final minutes.
Austin got out to an early lead, thanks in part to Derrick White’s phenomenal play. White was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs with the 29th pick. White had no D-1 scholarships and had to walk onto a D-2 school before transferring to Colorado where he ultimately finished his college career. White has had a chip on his shoulder his whole career, and was looking to make an impact in the G League Finals. To say he managed to do so in this first game is an understatement. White finished with a game-high 35 points as he led the Spurs offense all night, shooting an impressive 11-of-20 from the field, 3-of-6 from three and 10-of-10 from the free throw line.
While White was going off, Lorenzo Brown — the 905’s saviour this season — started to get hot as well. When Austin was throwing double-teams at him, he made the right passes to find the open man, which resulted in some huge three-pointers. Brown ended up finishing with 20 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds as he tried to lead the 905 back to victory.
As has often been the case, the 905 played from behind int his one. But they were slowly chipping away at the lead. The difference here is that the 905 were still down at half, and then again after the third quarter.
In the fourth, the 905 got out to a little run. The good vibes were building until Davion Berry got hurt and had to limp off the court with 10 minutes remaining. He did not return which really hurt the 905’s chances of coming back.
However, even with Berry out, the 905 — again, led by Brown — started to claw back at the Spurs lead, getting it down to two points with help from Malachi Richardson’s foul drawing (he was 8-of-10 at the charity stripe), and the pair of Shevon Thompson and Kennedy Meeks anchoring the post. Thompson had 12 points but struggled to collect rebounds, as he had just two. Meeks, meanwhile, had a nice bounce-back game, was once again dominant with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
After getting the lead down to two, the 905 looked like they would make one of their signature comebacks. Sadly, not having Berry in the closing lineup proved to hurt the 905 too much. The 905’s defense struggled down the stretch and the Spurs hit back-to-back wide-open three-pointers to ice the game.
Game 2 goes on Tuesday night in Mississauga. And the 905 will need a special performance to get back into this one.
- Malcolm Miller and Alfonzo McKinnie really struggled shooting the ball as they went a combined 1-of-9 on threes. If they 905 are going to win they’ll need Miller and McKinnie to step up as both had under 10 points in this one.
- If Berry cannot play on Tuesday it will be a big blow to the 905 as he has anchored the second-unit all season. Losing him will mess up a lot of the 905’s lineups, especially the usual one to close games.
- Darrun Hillard was huge for the Spurs as he chipped in with 23 points and six rebounds and became a problem once the 905 focused on White.
- The 905 really struggled to collect rebounds and made some bad mental mistakes, which in the end cost them the game. The 905 will need to clean those mistakes up if they are going to win the series.
- Andre Washington and Negus Webster-Chan were hit with DNP-CDs, while Kethan Savage was inactive.