Well, the Raptors sure caught a break at the end of that one, didn’t they? Damion Lee, who had a pretty solid game in the first, oh 47.5 minutes or so, missed two free throws, a wide open three, and then turned the ball over and fouled Norman Powell all with the Warriors within four with 30 seconds to go.
Oh, and that foul was a clear path foul.
Kinda feel bad for the guy, but the Raptors needed that one... so, not too bad.
Anybody else get some Game 1 flashbacks in the first quarter last night, courtesy of Kyle Lowry?
Nothing can compare to that 11-2 Lowry run on June 13 in the highest-leverage situation, but like that night, last night he was in complete control of the quarter, finishing with 11 points and five assists.
And if that didn’t remind you of game six, how about his final stat line: 26 points and 10 assists?
They’ve gotta be pretty sick of seeing Kyle Lowry in the Bay Area at this point.
Pascal on Paschall, or Vice-Versa
Rookie Eric Paschall drew the assignment to guard All-Star Pascal Siakam last night, and boy, did he hold his own! He did a solid job using his body to deter Siakam’s probing drives, and Siakam settled for far too many jumpers.
Like Siakam, Pachall was a low pick (41, second round) who had low expectations but is exceeding them. And he’s kinda fun to watch, especially with that thick (ahem, thicc) frame and high dribble. Our guy Sean summed it up nicely:
Paschall is listed at 6’6 while looking like he’s 6’2 and playing like he’s 6’10— Sean Woodley (@woodleysean) March 6, 2020
As for Siakam, I was pretty disappointed in his performance last night. He was 0-for-7 from downtown, and I’d suggest maybe two of those shots were good shots that came in the flow of the offense. The rest looked like settling to me. He finally started taking the ball into the paint in the final minutes, helping secure the win and erasing the memory of his earlier passivity, but I think the team could have used a lot more from him.
Norm on Fire
Is Norman Powell suddenly underpaid? This man could barely get on the court at times last year, and now he might be the team’s most reliable scorer! He’s obviously shooting the heck out of the ball, but he’s also gotten way more crafty on his drives. He takes better angles, he extends quickly the beat the defense to the rim, and he’s gotten way smoother on his crosses and euro-steps.
Of course, he most important thing is that he’s doing it every night. He’s scored 14 or more in 21 of his past 25 games (and there were two long stretches of injury in there). He may not do much else in the boxscore, but I think Nick Nurse can finally have confidence, knowing what he’s gonna get from Norm every night.
Perhaps the best part of this is, when (not if!) the team is fully healthy, Nurse can ride whoever is hotter at the two-guard spot (Powell or VanVleet) or play a three-guard lineup to give OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam a rest. Powell showing up every night unlocks some serious potential in a shortened playoff rotation.
Terence Davis has had a rough go of it lately, as I mentioned briefly in Swingin’ Wings on Wednesday. He was a little better, overall, last night, but I think we’ll all remember these two vicious dunks from the first half:
TERENCE DAVIS!! Throwing it down between defenders!! pic.twitter.com/nbW0dqm9vY— TSN (@TSN_Sports) March 6, 2020
I don’t think Marquese Chriss will soon forget them!
Coach, I love you, but WTF?
I can’t imagine what possessed Nick Nurse to run out a lineup featuring Patrick McCaw, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, OG Anunoby, Matt Thomas and Terence Davis to start the fourth quarter last night. That lineup hadn’t played a single minute together all year, features no real creators (maybe TD) and two non-factors on offense (McCaw and RHJ). Just, why? Why play 3-on-5? I just don’t get it. And they stayed out there for four minutes!
I know Nick likes to experiment, and generally, I like that about him. But maybe run that experiment in the second quarter? Or in a game you’re up 12, rather than one point?
Thankfully the unit was net-neutral on the night, but I absolutely hope to never see it — or any lineup featuring both McCaw and RHJ at the same time — again.
So with that, the Raptors clinch a playoff spot, the earliest that they’ve ever done so. Seven years in a row! And perhaps best of all, last night and this morning Raptors Twitter came out in full force with all the receipts of everyone who thought the Raptors would stink this season. Keep ‘em coming, I am all the way here for this pettiness.