The biggest difference maker? Well, if you’ve been watching the Raptors at all this year, you won’t be surprised.
1. Dalano’s world
Every time Dalano Banton has come into a game this year, it seems like the Raptors immediately play better. So it makes sense that after Banton came in in the first quarter — his earliest appearance of the season — the Raptors outscored the Pacers by 16 the rest of the game. The guy just makes things happen! His stat line is pretty modest: 11 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists in 16 minutes — but he brings an energy off the bench that no one else does.
Sixth man from The Six has a pretty good ring to it, doesn’t it?
2. Push it
The other day I wrote about how frustrating it’s been watching Fred VanVleet walk the ball up after opponents’ makes and turnovers, rather than getting the ball up quickly and getting into the offense faster. Banton seems to have gotten the memo! Or maybe it’s just his longer strides? But what usually takes VanVleet seven seconds to do, Banton does in four.
It’s certainly not the only reason the Raptors’ offense looked better, but I think it helped!
3. Solved the problem
Dalano wasn’t just the first point guard to come off the bench last night, he was the only point guard to come off the bench (until garbage time). Goran Dragic got no run at all, which is surprising; yeah, he hasn’t played well but Nurse generally trusts veterans.
Yesterday I wrote about the Dragic vs. Malachi Flynn debate, not really thinking that Banton would leapfrog Flynn... and now he’s suddenly jumped over Dragic too! I don’t know if it’ll stick; I think Nurse will come back to Dragic. But I really don’t know where that leaves Flynn.
When Flynn came in during garbage time, my wife noticed and asked why he wasn’t playing more, and I said he’s in the doghouse, Nick Nurse doesn't trust him, I don’t know why. And she immediately said, “I think he’s too tentative out there. He’s not sure of himself, and he looks like he thinks he doesn't belong.” Then she went on to say, “look at Scottie. He’s just going out there and playing, like he’s been an NBA basketball player his whole life.”
I think maybe she should be writing these thoughts from now on, because she’s absolutely right. Even in his garbage time minutes Flynn looked hesitant! But Scottie, and Banton too, they’re just out there balling.
5. On Kyle Beach
I don’t follow hockey closely at all but I can’t let today go by without saying how courageous Kyle Beach was yesterday in coming forward and revealing himself as the victim of sexual abuse while a member of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010. I have so much respect for him (and so little for the Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr and Joel Quenneville for ignoring Beach’s reports years ago. I hope his courage, and what hopefully comes out of it, helps others who have faced similar abuse come forward.
Also, this just made me so, so angry:
Joel Quenneville will not be addressing the media tonight— Alex Baumgartner (@ABaumgartner91) October 28, 2021
The NHL will do more to protect a coach from tough questions than it did to protect its players from sexual abuse. Just shameful.