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Dial 905: Watson leads up and down week for G League Raps

The 905 remain in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference, but a 1-1 week sees them stand pat where they are.

Raptors 905 vs Windy City Bulls Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/NBAE via Getty Images

After doing a mostly good job with their last home stand, the 905 are right in the thick of the G League playoff race. They’ve got there thanks to some late season roster coalescing and improvement among their two way players, one of those being Paul Watson.

Watson had a pair of big performances this week, as the 905 split games against the Long Island Nets and Windy City Bulls on the road. With 56 points scored between the two games, it’s clear that the swing guard has become a volume shooter and the backcourt player for a G League team that otherwise gets much of its production from an athletic frontcourt. Since signing a two way contract, that’s only become more clear with the calendar now turning to March.

So where are the 905 at in the playoff race? They’re chasing a wild card spot, as they sit an impenetrable 9.5 games back of Maine in the Atlantic Division. Luckily, only two games separate them from Delaware, who currently hold the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference at 21-19. There are a couple teams between them and the Blue Coats, but with a head-to-head matchup coming on Saturday, there’s reason for hopefulness in the G League team.

Before we get too far ahead, though, let’s look back at the week that was.

Sunday, March 1 at Long Island Nets

Raptors 111
Nets 118

One of those teams between the 905 and the Blue Coats are the Long Island Nets, who now have the exact same record as the Raptors — much thanks to a narrow win last Sunday on their home court.

The Nets overcame a heroic effort from Paul Watson, probably his best game of the season, as he poured in 34 points on 22 shots, making five threes, while grabbing four rebounds, two steals, and a block.

Down by as many as 13 with four minutes left, the 905 tried to rally a comeback late but had some key misses from Oshae Brissett and Henry Ellenson when they needed it. A couple late Watson threes made the score look better than it was. It was an inefficient night overall for the 905 front court, as Ellenson had an uncharacteristic 4-for-11 shooting performance, including 1-for-8 from three. Brissett, who started for an inactive Devin Robinson, went 4-for-17.

There was some bench light, though, as Matt Morgan put in big minutes — 38 to be exact — to score 21 points on 12 shots. With inefficiencies in the starting five, this was welcome, but the 905 couldn’t overcome a balanced scoring performance from the Nets. Led by 27 points from Jeremiah Martin, Long Island also put themselves within striking distance of a playoff spot.

Wednesday, March 4 at Windy City Bulls

Raptors 113
Bulls 96

A bounce back performance was welcome for the 905, then, even if it came against one of the league’s worst teams in Windy City. The bottom dwellers of the Central Division, the Bulls struggled with outside shooting going just 10-for-34, while the 905 settled into a balanced scoring attack.

The Raptors were led by Brissett, who once again filled in for Robinson but did a much better job. His 26 points led the 905 as he marked a +19 in his minutes on the floor. While not a dominant night on the glass, which is a facet of some of his best games of the season, Brissett’s scoring (and some spectacular defence) definitely kept the Raptors afloat.

In getting balanced scoring, the 905 also got a monster double double from Ellenson, who had 20 points and 14 rebounds.

Paul Watson chipped in 22 points, which included five threes, and Tyler Ennis had an 8-for-12 night — scoring 19 points and marking a +22.

This was really a game where the 905 jumped out early and didn’t look back. They dominated the second quarter 31-16, and held court in the second half by holding about that same double digit lead throughout.

The hope now is they can take that momentum into a critical home stand, which begins with an afternoon matchup against Delaware on Saturday and continues with back-to-back games against College Park on Monday and Wednesday.