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Five thoughts on last night: Raptors 112, Pistons 99

The Raptors won, but lost two players to injury. Has the North angered the basketball gods? 

Five thoughts recap: Toronto Raptors 112, Detroit Pistons 99, Kyle Lowry Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With a 112-99 victory over the Detroit Pistons, the Toronto Raptors improved their record against sub-.500 teams to 16-0. Pretty good! As Mitch said in yesterday’s Toronto Temperature, if you grew up watching the Raptors crap the bed against trash teams, that stat feels very cathartic.

But last night’s win came at a cost. Marc Gasol left the game with a non-contact injury (a left hamstring strain) and Norman Powell was felled by a Blake Griffin screen (shoulder injury, to the same shoulder Powell injured last season).

All of which leads me to my first thought. Let’s go:

Have we Angered the Basketball Gods?

There’s no doubt that the Raptors benefitted from all of the injuries that befell the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals. This isn’t to take away from the Raptors’ accomplishments, of course, because injuries are part of the game.

But you do wonder when the bill for such a benefit might come due.

Are the Basketball Gods now evening the score? The Raptors have now had injuries to three of their regular starters (Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Marc Gasol) and their sixth, seventh, and (arguably) eighth men (Serge Ibaka, Norman Powell and Patrick McCaw.

The season is only one-third of the way complete, so plenty of time for this to correct itself (and, better to have these injuries now than in April and May). And thankfully, none of these seem too serious (although we still await word on Powell). VanVleet should be back soon, and Lowry, McCaw and Ibaka look to have regained their rhythm.

But still, I can’t help but wonder if there’s some divine retribution going on here.

Wait, How Many Three-point Attempts!?

Pascal Siakam attempted 11 three-pointers last night, a career high. That seems like a lot! Siakam is up to 6.3 attempts per game this season, and that definitely seems high for a guy who’s best moments seem to come from his improvisation when getting to the rim. And I do feel like a couple of last night’s attempts were of the “settling” variety — like, “I’m tired, I don’t want to fight my way to the paint even though I’m being guarded by the shell of Blake Griffin, I’m just gonna pop it.”

But guess what — he made six of those attempts, also a career-high. He’s shooting 39% on the season, obviously by far a career-high, and that places him 26th in the league among players who take more than five threes per game.

39% on 6.3 attempts per game through 27 games. I think we can safely say that “three-point shooting” is no longer on Siakam’s (steadily shrinking) list of weaknesses.

Use What God Gave Ya

This might be my favourite thing that’s happened so far this season:

Five thoughts recap: Toronto Raptors 112, Detroit Pistons 99, Kyle Lowry thicc NBA.com

Yep, that’s Kyle’s ass brushing off Tony Snell like Canadians brush snow off their cars on January mornings.

Tony Snell, I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.

The Raptors’ official Twitter account is, though:

Five thoughts recap: Toronto Raptors 112, Detroit Pistons 99, Raptors Twitter twitter.com/Raptors

Why Are the Pistons the Way That They Are?

I’ll admit I’ve not watched a whole lot of Pistons ball this year (why would anyone subject themselves to that!?) but from what I’ve seen, this team is awful on defense, and that is the last thing I’d ever expect a Dwane Casey team to be.

How many times did the Raptors just turn and run, with no resistance? How many times did the lane open like the Red Sea? How many back-cuts did they give up?

I can’t believe that’s lack of coaching. Are Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond just that lazy? They’re both great athletes, they should be better defenders.

I don’t know what it is but I feel for Dwane Casey, having to coach these jokers. (And Reggie Jackson didn’t even play!)

Hoo Boy, the Refs Were On One Last Night

When I turn on a Raptors game, there’s only one person I ever want to see drunk, and that’s Jack Armstrong. But I think our three officials maybe have been taking a page out of Jack’s book last night, ‘cause man, they were all over the map. We had early techs, late techs, techs that took away baskets, several obvious missed calls, and of course, ticky-tack calls that make you wonder why they don’t call a foul on every play.

No one expects the refs to be perfect but their presence definitely affected my ability to enjoy the game, and that’s the last thing you want from the officials. (And the last thing you want me writing about!)

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Three straight wins, against sub-par competition? Hey, as my pal Joshua Howe says, beating a sucky sub-.500 team is still a win, baby!