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Toronto Temperature: The Raptors put on perfect start to meaningful basketball

The Raptors reeled off two impressive wins right out of the gate. All things considered, it’s been a good time in the Bubble for Toronto.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Miami Heat
Steady Freddy dropping buckets and dirty dragons in one fell swoop.
Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

As with the previous Toronto Temperature articles since the bubble began, this space is going to be reserved for signal boosting issues and moments that are bigger than basketball.

While there is some work to be done in calling for police action to resolve an issue caused by police actions, there is no denying that there must be accountability for the travesties committed by the police officers (named in the above tweet) that murdered Breonna Taylor. Sign the petition and continue to push your councillors and lawmakers for necessary, fundamental change.

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And with that, how sweet was it is to be able to lay eyes on meaningful NBA action involving our beloved Toronto Raptors? Not only did they hold on for a tight victory against the Heat in a typical afternoon-trap game, but they flat-out busted the Lakers’ ass on their opening night leading to a perfect 2-0 start to the bubble seeding games.

The schemes are tight, the defensive intensity and rotations are as crisp as we all remember and the offense is only getting better. Start planning the parade!

Who’s Hot

Kyle Lowry, KLOE

Who else would you expect to set the tone in what could be argued was the most important game of the seeding series but Kyle Lowry? The Raptors very easily could have used their first game against the Lakers as a warm-up or a palette cleanser to settle in for the games to come but Kyle would not have any of that.

Whether it was taking charges, hitting transition threes or straight up embarrassing Kyle Kuzma anytime he guarded him, Kyle Lowry was a man on a mission against the Lakers as he finished with a 33-point, 14-rebound and 6-assist gem. And while his numbers tapered off in the win against the Heat, Kyle still managed to lead the team in rebounding for the second straight night, get to the line nine times (and hit all nine) and produce what might be the greatest block of his career?

That’s our GOAT.

Fred VanVleet, Bag Chasing

Setting out on a similar path was Fred VanVleet who played a very solid game against the Lakers as he lead the team in assists while showcasing his usual brand of locked-in defense but it was against the Heat where he truly left his mark.

In the afternoon clash against Miami, VanVleet decided to one-up Lowry’s opening-night heroics by dropping a career high 36 points while getting to the line 13 times (and hitting all 13)!

All of Fred’s hard work would have been for naught had he not come up with the game-saving defensive play in the dying moments of the fourth quarter.

MLSE’s gonna need a bigger wallet.

OG Anunoby, Shake n’ Bake

Remember last year when the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship (a question I will never tire of asking)? Do you remember who wasn’t part of that magical run? That’s right OG “All-NBA Defense” Anunoby. Why is that important to mention? Because, if OG were there, it’s entirely conceivable that the Raptors go 16-0 and Kawhi never leaves and shut-up, I’m not crying!

Good news, though! OG is all the way healthy for what feels like the first time in a very long time and he is capital “C” contributing. Anunoby dropped 23 points on 89 percent shooting (lol) against the Lakers — showcasing his newfound handles in the process.

Take that clip in for a minute. That’s a spin-move against Anthony Davis who could very well win the Defensive Player of the Year award this year. Oh, you want more? How about against not-a-defensive-slouch and all of the sudden Splash Bro, Jae Crowder?

Couple the offensive improvements with continued defensive excellence and there is no doubt in my mind that the Raptors are going to be able to hang with and likely beat whomever they come across in the playoffs to come.

Who’s Not

David Guthrie, Foul Explanations

After Kyle Lowry drew yet another masterful charge against Goran Dragic in the first quarter of the Raptors win over Miami, I knew in my heart of hearts that we were about to witness some dirty play from The Dragon. Was my prediction correct, warranted and completely data and history driven? Better damn well believe it, as one quarter later OG blocked Dragic’s three point shot which embarrassingly sent him falling to the ground. What happened next? Dragic grabbed OG’s foot to intentionally trip him and succeeded.

Enter David Guthrie, who decided to rightfully take a look at the play to see if there was any evidence of a flagrant foul. After review, Guthrie deemed the trip to be a common foul because there was “no injury on the play.” Huh?!

At the time of writing this, the NBA is already trying to walk-back this clear “shit, we’re not ready to be mic’ed up” moment by the veteran official who’s favourite app is astonishingly The Chive by saying that that the result of the play had nothing to do with the call. Whoops, it happened on national television and there is crystal clear audio (which I miraculously cannot find) of Guthrie uttering the words “no injury on the play.” That’s foul.

NBA Coaches Not Named Nick Nurse, For Shame

Look, Nick Nurse finished one-vote shy of a three-way tie for this NBA Coaches Association Coach of the Year award but let’s be honest here, there’s no way he’s going to lose the one that matters, right?

Terence Davis, In a Bad Way

As if the anti-vaxxer rhetoric in his Instagram story wasn’t enough, Terence Davis was photographed wearing an NBA mask with a hole cut out of the mouth. While reports state that Raptors leadership is addressing the issue, you can’t help but wonder what the negative attention is doing to the rookie’s game.

Davis looked abysmal in the win against the Heat logging a grand total of four minutes and was not much of a measure better against the Lakers. For the Raptors to make a championship push, they’re going to need all hands on deck and Davis was a key cog at times in Nurse’s rotation. Here’s hoping Davis can wrap his head around science and get back to producing on the court, and in that order.