Now that’s how you make a paltry two-game slate feel like an eternity! The Raptors managed to go 1-1 in a week where they should have breezed to a 2-0 record on the strength of playing the Charlotte Hornets and having an 18 point lead late against the Spurs. As is their wont to do, the Raps thought an overtime thriller against the Hornets (yes, that apparently exists in 2020) and a complete and utter collapse during a 17-0 run against the Spurs would be a cool way to toy with the hearts of Raptors fans around the country.
While getting the win against the Hornets had its fair share of moments to celebrate, the real heroes and of the week and our eternal hearts were Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
Pascal Siakam got a special visit from DeMar DeRozan during his post-game scrum. pic.twitter.com/ezHLqzvIzz— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 13, 2020
Terence Davis, Showing Out
Hey, remember this?
Nurse on Terence Davis only playing 8 minutes tonight: "He's just not playing very well... It was probably 5 minutes too many."— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) January 8, 2020
After this quote, Nick “Galaxy Brain” Nurse decided to give Terence Davis the start against Charlotte and well, the kid might just have delivered.
23 points. 11 rebounds. 5 assists. 50/50/100.
TDII also managed a team high +20 while playing excellent defense and committing zero turnovers. You want more? How about locking up Terry “Not All That Scary, Actually” Rozier on a game-winning attempt at the buzzer? He did that and he did it with some sauce, too.
Terry Rozier misses game winning three then wasn't having it from Terence Davis pic.twitter.com/whAdNHEGhc— Zach Aldridge (@wzaldridge) January 9, 2020
This kid is gonna be a star.
Healthy Bodies, So Close
It’s happening, everyone! The Raptors are this close to being a fully healthy squad. Norman Powell made his anticipated return against the Spurs while Pascal made a surprise return the same night! Not one game later, the Raps will also be getting Marc Gasol back for tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. With only Fred VanVleet left to return, fans will soon be able to get a glimpse of what a fully healthy starting lineup and a bench unit that has a much better idea of who they are will finally look like together.
While all of this is terrific news, Raptors fans are surely in for more of what they got in the Sunday game against the Spurs: rust. While Powell’s shot looked great throughout the game, he managed to find his usual rhythm of being the only starter in the minus at game’s end.
Pascal looked incredible and as if he hadn’t missed a beat as he started the night 5-6 on a variety of looks. That, unfortunately was short-lived as Siakam clearly ran out of gas in the second half and even chunked a wide-open layup to tie the game while also missing a wide-open Kyle Lowry at the end of the fourth for a better look than his near-half court heave that hit all backboard.
There will be more of this, but the rust will shake and the Raptors will return to the team that fans know they can be — provided they can stay healthy from here on out.
All Bench Unit, Time for a New Look
Let me preface this part of the column by saying that I think Nick Nurse should be Coach of the Year as of today. He’s simply done more with less than his counterparts across the league and more so than that, he is implementing defensive schemes against the league’s stars that other coaches are straight jacking from him. Crown our king!
He also infuriatingly stuck with an all-bench lineup that blew a massive lead on Sunday and cannot pry himself away from Patrick McCaw. Now, credit where credit is due as McCaw started against Charlotte and logged a 13 point and 11 assist double-double in the overtime win. But again, that was the Charlotte Hornets, not Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. Against the Spurs, McCaw was the 6th man as he lead the bench in minutes and was a team worst -18 in 20 minutes. -18 in a game where the Raptors had an 18 point lead and lost by 1. The math does itself, here folks.
Thankfully, with a full roster set to return as soon as FVV is back in playing shape, the hope here is that Nurse just simply won’t have enough minutes to throw these all bench looks out. Alas, Nurse is a forever-tinkerer, so Raptors fans better buckle up and strap in for more oddball lineups that are sure to surprise and infuriate.
Chris Boucher, Baptized
Oh my goodness.