Not even Doug McDermott could save the Pacers in Toronto on Sunday. In the thousandth match-up between the Raps and Indy this month, the home side made it quite clear which of the two teams would be favoured in a hypothetical playoff series.
Our pal Josh Kern is taking the day off (feel better, buddy!), so it’s Sean here to dish some thoughts on the game that got so out of hand that Stanley Johnson played his second highest minutes total of the season.
46 Points is a Lot of Points!
Toronto set a new franchise record for single-game point differential in the win — a feat that was almost telegraphed from the start. The opening quarter saw the Raps rip off a 21-3 burst out of the gate, encompassing a pair of frustrated Nate McMillan timeouts and a 1-of-15 start from the field for the Pacers. It took north of five minutes for the Pacers to make a field goal, and three more for them to make a second.
Toronto’s built plenty of enormous leads over the course of their 17-of-18 stretch. Fighting off the human urge to relax has been a challenge at times, though. Not so on Sunday. Any time the Pacers teased a comeback, Toronto was able to stem it, usually in the form of a run-busting Serge Ibaka pick-and-pop jumper.
Between the back-breaking comeback three weeks ago, the on-the-road punking two days later, and Sunday night’s ass whooping, I’m guessing the Pacers are A) glad to be be done with this season series and B) scared as hell of the Raptors falling into the 3-6 match-up in the East.
You could give the Pacers all the points they scored in the second half of the last Raptors game in Indiana and it would be a tie game.— Vivek Jacob (@VivekMJacob) February 24, 2020
Among the more remarkable facts of the night was that the Raptors, 50-something games into the season, won by so much that they drastically altered the NET Rating standings, jumping from fourth in the league (+6.4 / 100) into a tie for second (+7.1). That’s November shit!
Nick Nurse Hits 100
The milestones didn’t come only at the team level on Sunday. With the win Nick Nurse picked up his 100th as Raptors head coach (116th if you wanna be a stickler). He’s obviously the fastest Raptors coach to do it, and one of the quickest ever to reach the mark. At 100-39 all-time, he holds the highest winning percentage of all-time.
For a little perspective, consider that in just one and two-thirds seasons on the Raptors sidelines, he’s already fourth on the team’s all-time coaching wins list; Toronto needs just 14 more wins to nudge him past Lenny Wilkens into third. Sam Mitchell (156) is probably going down next season. Nurse has also got five more wins than Kevin O’Neill, Brendan Malone and Darrell Walker combined, in 166 fewer games coached.
He’s a good coach, man.
Pascal Siakam is Good at Passes
There’s usually very little to be gleaned from blowouts in terms of tangible basketball analysis. Pascal Siakam did his best to serve up a few morsels that might matter in the big picture, though. Those nuggets came in the form of very cool and good big-to-big passes with Serge Ibaka.
OG Anunoby got into the mix for a cut and a dunk from Siakam as well. Sure, Siakam’s three sweet dimes came against a team that seemed decidedly uninterested in trying, but they’re an important development nonetheless. Toronto seems determined to funnel more of its offense through Siakam over the closing stretch of the season. As Nick Nurse pointed out before Sunday’s game, giving him the reps as a true top option is the only way to prepare him for what playoff defenses are surely going to throw at him. With Ibaka and Anunoby growing more accustomed to exploiting the soft spots an overloaded defense present, Siakam won’t have to do it all himself.
Goodbye Dougie McDemons
Kyle Lowry was up to some classic maniac stuff on Sunday. He took up a charge up 30. He took a brazen 30-something foot three and canned it. And he also washed away a half decade’s worth of Doug McDermott Raptors torment with one of the most disrespectful steals you will ever see.
Air Boucher, you're cleared for take-off pic.twitter.com/FBG6pIUmI5— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 24, 2020
McDermott finished with just eight points on 3-of-6 shooting, and is never to be feared again, probably.
Matt Thomas is the New Bruno
Every hilarious blowout needs a folk hero performance. Back in 2014 it was Bruno Caboclo who heard his name chanted for the entirety of the second half in a beat-down of the Bucks. Back in December 2016, Toronto set its old record for margin of victory with a 44-point slapping of the Hawks, which was capped by Jakob Poeltl and the Vinegar Strokes dunk.
Sunday’s garbage time hero was Matt Thomas, scorer of 17 fourth quarter points on 6-of-8 shooting and 5-of-7 from downtown. At 31-of-61 from deep on the season, Thomas is tied with George Hill for the league-lead in three-point shooting among guys with at least 61 attempts. Matt Thomas is worthy of being an arbitrary endpoint.