Look, summer league really isn’t that serious. I’m seeing some people on Twitter talking about how they’re having flashbacks to the Cavs series, trying to make analogies to certain plays and trends, and, like, nah. Y’all are too dramatic. It’s summer league. Some dudes who won’t even play for the Raptors were eliminated from summer league by some dudes who won’t even play for the Cavs. Chill out.
Against the Cavs. After their 3 point shot completely abandoned them and they had to rely the on the center to score all the points. https://t.co/IKechZKLoy— verticality (@AnnaJaneSmith4) July 15, 2018
It’s pretty funny though, I’ll admit that. The basketball gods getting one last little shot in the ribs in before the Cavs inevitably head towards the East’s basement. Just gotta remind Raptors fans and players of all the years they suffered at the Cavs’ hands, I guess. And John Holland sure did look a little like J.R. Smith making all those nonsense, leaning three-point shots.
Anyways, yeah, the cinderella Summer League Raps finally had their fun little run come to an end. The Cavs’ Collin Sexton was the only NBA draft prospect in this game, and he looked it too. Sexton was the only player in the game who was consistently able to get separation for himself and then do something with it, and as a result he ended with 18 points and 6 assists. That disparity in ball-handling ability would prove the difference maker come the 3rd quarter, when the Cavs mounted a huge run due, in large part, to the ineptitude of the Raptors’ shot-creation. That run was all the Cavs would need to pull away for a comfortable 82-68 win.
Live and Die By The Three
The Raps relied on the three-ball to secure their only two wins in Summer League shooting a combined 43% from distance in those wins. This game saw the long-ball abandon the Raptors as they shot just 8/40 from behind the arc. This reliance on 3-point shooting stemmed largely from the fact that Rawle Alkins, Codi Miller-McIntyre, Malachi Richardson and Giddy Potts are the kind of ballhandlers who can consistently get into the lane, but not all the way to the rim. With their lack of reliable on-ball creation the Raptors needed multiple drives and ball-swings to get open shots for their perimeter players. The process wasn’t much different this game. The results, however, were, and, as Dwane Casey loved to say: “It’s a make or miss league, Doug.”
Next man(s) up: Chris Boucher and Giddy Potts
With the Raps pulling OG Anunoby out of summer league for rest/injury prevention the Raptors have needed multiple players to step up and fill the offensive void. Last game it was Rawle Alkins getting hot from deep to narrowly put the Raps over the Hornets. This game featured Chris Boucher stepping up in the first half, even as Alkins struggled to score. Boucher ran the floor in transition and caught and finished around the bucket for most of his points, but he also mixed things up by showcasing his post-game. Boucher used a nice spin move to evade Billy Preston for an open slam-dunk and hit a tough hook shot off a post-up as well. Defensively, Boucher picked up where he’d left off in the last two summer league games. He provided some imposing rim protection, including this monster swat on Vladimir Brodziansky.
Then, with Boucher starting the 3rd quarter on the bench, all of a sudden there was no “next man up”. The quarter began with a couple fruitless Shevon Thompson post-ups, a strategy the Raptors quickly abandoned. What followed, however, didn’t work much better. Raptors’ guards struggled to get separation and forced up some tough long range threes as a result. They also struggled on drives, failing to get all the way to the basket and missing several short midrange shots. This combination led to a quarter where the Raptors scored only 4 points. With the Cavs up by 15 to enter the fourth, the game was already effectively decided.
Finally, in the fourth the next man up emerged, and this time it was Giddy Potts. Potts had 10 in the quarter after a rough first half, showing himself to be more than just a spot-up shooter. He had his best ball-handling quarter of the tournament, navigating a screen to pull up from midrange, getting to the basket to draw a foul and making a tough step-back three. The Raptors attempted a full-court press in an effort to make up the now-large deficit, and Potts was instrumental in that too, providing some tough ball pressure on Sexton that helped force several turnovers. While Potts’ was able to help the Raptors get within single digits, ultimately their efforts would prove fruitless, as a counter-punch from the Cavs in the second half of the quarter would put the game completely out of reach.
And so ended the Raptors’ summer league journey. It introduced us to Rawle Alkins, Giddy Potts and Chris Boucher, a trio of players who hopefully have some place in the Raptors’ future. For that I will be forever grateful.
I’m sure Daniel and Joel are glad it’s over.