About halfway through the second quarter of Sunday’s summer league game between the Toronto Raptors and the Minnesota Timberwolves, as I furiously typed out notes and kept switching tabs to see who the heck these Timberwolves were, I looked over and saw my wife, sitting outside on our patio on a beautiful Toronto afternoon, kicking back and drinking an iced tea (a just reward since she’d spent all morning cleaning said patio). As I went back to doing some incredibly dispiriting math in my head (let’s see, if the Timberwolves missed 12 straight shots, and the Raptors were 1-for-8, that’s... oh god), I realized:
I’m in too deep, man.
Nevertheless, I dutifully slogged through the rest of the game, a 103-92 snoozer (that admittedly picked up briefly in the second half!), to bring you this riveting recap!
So yes, the first quarter was pretty terrible basketball. The teams combined to shoot 11-42 overall, and the fact that they managed to score 36 points combined simply tells you there was plenty of hacking going on.
The Raptors started with the same lineup as last game, and looked halfway decent; OG Anunoby was featured a lot, Malcolm Miller got opportunities from deep and Augusto Lima had opportunities in the paint. Unfortunately Marquis Teague and Alfonzo McKinnie both seemed to be pressing, with McKinnie forcing shots and Teague looking sloppy (he had a backcourt violation right off the bat).
The Timberwolves were ice-cold, and had the Raptors not committed so many fouls (8 in the frame) they’d surely have been leading, rather than trailing 19-17 after 1. That would turn out to be pretty important in this one...
The second quarter saw the teams settle in to their shooting, with the Timberwolves even draining a handful of triples. The turnovers and fouls remained high, especially on Toronto’s end, with Lima even picking up a flagrant-1 at one point (followed in short order by an illegal screen on the other end). By halftime Minnesota had stretched its lead to 45-38, based mainly on a free-throw edge of 24 attempts to Toronto’s 8.
Anunoby finally got on the board in the third quarter, opening the half with a layup; a couple of plays later he added two free throws, and knocked down a triple shortly thereafter, followed by a spinning layup. Anunoby was nominally playing the four-spot, as Nick Nurse went with Jordan Lloyd instead of Alfonzo McKinnie to start the period, shifting OG over a spot, where he was able to use his speed and length to get around Keita Bates-Diop.
The quarter really belonged to Malachi Richardson and Lloyd, though, as the two combined to hit 6-of-7 shots, including 4-of-5 from downtown. Lloyd’s shot is very CJ Miles-esque, with a super-quick release and sky-high arc. Rawle Alkins also got in to the action with a sweet baseline jam that tied the game at 69, and the Raptors took a 73-71 lead into the fourth.
Things didn’t got Toronto’s way in the final frame, though. The Wolves jumped out on an 8-0 run before Codi Miller-McIntyre knocked down a three-pointer. Shevon Thompson followed that with an impressive baby hook to cut it to one, and after Jonathan Stark put Minnesota up three, OG came back with a quick-hop baseline dunk to get it back to one. It looked like we might be in for a good finish!
Alas, after an Isaiah Cousins free throw, Stark had another layup and assisted on a Bates-Diop three that put Minnesota up 7, and when Bates-Diop added another triple a minute later to push it to 10, it was pretty much all she wrote.
The story of this one really was the free throws; the Raptors shot 11-of-15 from the line, while the Timberwolves went 29-of-35. Not gonna win too many when you let the other team shoot 20 more times from the stripe!
A few additional thoughts:
So How did OG Look?
Our man Jacob Mack had some great first impressions of OG Anunoby from Friday’s opener: lots of opportunities for OG to create, where his handle looked a little shaky, and his jumper looking the same as last season (and unfortunately not falling).
Anunoby missed his first three in this one, but didn’t look to score early. He was heavily involved on both ends, though; he had a nice outlet to McKinnie for a dunk off a defensive rebound, and followed it up with a steal two possessions later. It’s clear Anunoby still isn’t super-comfortable handling the ball in space—even undefended—and he had a bad miscue driving in from the lane early in the first, losing the ball over his shoulder. But I’m definitely on board with the Raptors giving him these touches in summer league so he can develop that part of his game
As noted above, in the third Anunoby looked to score more himself, and he had no difficulty getting to his spots and getting clean looks. Overall, he looked most polished out of just about anyone on the floor, which shouldn’t be surprising for a guy coming off major NBA playoff minutes. He finished with 13 on 5-for-15 shooting, with seven rebounds and three turnovers.
The Raptors Shot Well, but Didn’t Show Anything New
After the atrocious first quarter the Raptors finished the game shooting 48.6%, but a lot of those came out of dribble-creation and basic pick-and-rolls. Which, I guess, is what summer league is all about! It did lead to more than a few possessions with Raptors guards driving the lane, usually without much control, resulting in turnovers or wild shots.
Malachi Richardson and Alfonzo McKinnie spent a lot of time dribbling, and looking pretty shaky for a lot of that time. Even in the third, where Richardson shot the ball well, he looked a bit skittish. I’ll give you the “yes, it’s summer league” caveat, but I still found it a bit disappointing, as Richardson and McKinnie are guys with NBA minutes under their belts and they’re the guys that should be playing calm and under control.
In the frontcourt, both of Toronto’s bigs looked decent, with both Lima and Thompson getting opportunities out of those PnRs and showing flashes around the rim. Lima showed some Jakob Poeltl-esque fouling tendencies, though, picking up 5 in 13 minutes. Miller-McIntyre and Lloyd had nice games as well, shooting a combined 9-14 for 27 points.
No Hints of How This Year’s Raps Might Play D
Going in to the game I wanted to look out for what the Raptors might do differently on defense; with Nick Nurse in the top spot and Rex Kalamian heading west, I’m curious how the defense will look.
Well, that was foolish of me—it is summer league after all. I didn’t see much of anything! More often than not, it looked like the Raptors’ guards were fighting through screens, but the bigs were preparing to switch. That left the D scrambling a lot; early on, the young T-wolves didn’t seem to know how to take advantage of it very often, and they didn’t get the easy looks or move the to the open man very often. But as they settled in, they started knocking down those open shots and letting their athletic wings and bigs attack the slower Raptors bigs.
Keita Bates-Diop had the best performance of the game for Minnesota; with a 24-point, 11-rebound showing (including 3-of-6 from 3-point range), it’s entirely possible he’ll be turn out to be a second-round steal for them. Their first-rounder, Josh Okogie, had 16, including a handful of impressive athletic drives and finishes.
The Raptors are back in action tomorrow when they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.