I’m back! I took last week off to move, which as always, is awful. Despite having the time off I feel like I barely made a dent in the unpacking and organizing! Alas, the world must continue turning, and the thoughts must continue, uh, thinking, or something.
1. Road test
The next two weeks will be a challenge for the Toronto Raptors as they face their first extended road trip since last season (when they spent the entire season on the road.
There are some winnable games on this trip, including Portland and Sacramento, and some tough gets, like Golden State and Utah. I think a 3-3 outcome is about the best we can ask, especially if Fred VanVleet misses any more time.
2. Home woes
What is with the Raptors’ 2-6 home record? We talked about this in the Roundtable last week but losing the Pistons is a whole other level.
I really hope the long road trip makes the home cooking seem that much sweeter and the Raptors return to Toronto and rip off a bunch of wins when they return. They have seven straight at home in early December, and 5-2 or better should be the goal.
3. Pascal cooking
Sure, the Raptors lost on Saturday, but did it really matter? Pascal Siakam looked like his old self (well, expect for all the fouls) in racking on up 25/12/7 on 14 shots. While it’s clear that the chemistry isn’t quite there yet with some of his new teammates, it’s coming along; seven assists certainly attests to that.
The three-point shooting is also promising. Not just that he hit 2-of-3 on Saturday, but also that he’s only taken seven in his three games played. I felt Siakam was a little too reliant on the three the past two seasons, and I’d love to see him keep the number of attempts to four or below this season.
4. Goran back
With Fred VanVleet sidelined (more on that in a moment) we saw the return of Goran Dragic to the Raptors lineup. I think it was the right call — Dalano Banton still works best as a change of pace guy, and Malachi Flynn is still far too tentative.
And I think it worked? Dragic was a team-high +6 in his 28 minutes. I doubt it portends a larger role when VanVleet returns but at least he showed he can still play.
5. Big nards
I still can’t believe Fred VanVleet hit a game winner, did the Sam Cassel dance, got fined for the Sam Cassell dance, and then had to sit out because of an injured groin. It’s like a sitcom bit.
Here’s hoping Freddy returns to the lineup soon. Although he plays a ton of minutes, and it’s not a bad thing to give him the occasional night off, we all saw what the Raptors’ D looked like without him on Saturday.