The Toronto Raptors got a rude welcome from the host Golden State Warriors, who demolished them early in tonight’s game and never looked back, winning 119-104. Tonight’s game against the NBA-best Warriors showed how far the Raptors are from being a competitive team, as the difference in half-court execution, defense, and talent was on full display.
Coach Nick Nurse’s defensive game plan slowed down Steph Curry to a pedestrian 12 points and 8 assists, but that same defense failed to stop everybody else. Andrew Wiggins dropped 32 points on 6/8 shooting from the perimeter, while Jordan Poole led the game with 33 points on 8/11 from behind the arc. The Warriors finished the game with 22 three-pointers, on a 48.9% rate. Draymond Green added 8 assists and 14 rebounds.
The Raptors themselves weren’t bad behind the arc, tying their season-high 15 three-pointers. However, the team got caught playing too much ISO ball when they found so much success by getting in the paint and kicking out and the occasional PnR/DHO actions. Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 21 points and six rebounds, while Fred VanVleet’s offense surfaced a little too late, dropping 17 points and seven assists.
The Raptors’ offense paled in contrast to the excellent unselfish ball movement with the Warriors. The half-court offense lacked imagination and stagnated a lot and often. I’m not saying that the Raptors have a lot of selfish players, but the Raptors are not that talented enough to rely on individual plays. The Raptors’ ball movement and offensive IQ are far from the team that defeated this Warriors team a few years ago. Right now, the Raptors just have too many players that are closer to Serge Ibaka’s playmaking than Marc Gasol and Kyle Lowry’s unselfishness in getting the ball moving.
The Raptors laboured in the half-court offense to start the game, and their efforts to contain Curry showed plenty of holes defensively. The Warriors’ passing and perimeter shooting got them off to a 16-5 start, with Wiggins and Poole combining for the Warriors’ 16 points. Everything looked easy for the Warriors, as they pushed their lead to 27-9 as Wiggins notches his 14th point. Dalano Banton, with the immediate impact off the bench, put up a quick four points and two assists to spur a 13-5 run to end the quarter, as the Warriors lead 36-24.
The Raptors managed to cut the lead to single-digit a couple of times. Still, their inability to keep the Warriors from getting a wide-open look behind the arc prevented them from making this a competitive game. Otto Porter Jr found Kevon Looney under the basket to put the Warriors up 49-32, but the Raps would go on a 9-4 run to stop me from creating an early “Raps lost” summary before halftime. Chris Chiozza’s (who?) five straight points sandwiched Trent Jr’s three-pointer, and it looked like the Warriors were poised to blow this game away, but Barnes found Siakam for a trifecta to keep it somewhat of a game with the Raptors trailing 47-61 at the half.
The third quarter looked promising for the Raptors, as Siakam hit back-to-back three-pointers to help the Raptors go on an 8-3 run the bring the lead down to nine. Wiggins would put a stop to that run as he hits his 6th three-pointer in a row. The Warriors would get their bearings back and showed the Raptors how to move the ball and execute their offense, as they would push the lead to 19. Barnes hit his third three-pointer of the season, but he picked up his fourth foul on Kevon Looney’s layup attempt.
Unlike in the first half, the foul trouble did not negatively affect Barnes. Instead, he looked more aggressive, scoring five more points in consecutive possessions. Unfortunately, the Warriors’ snipers were unstoppable tonight, as Poole dropped three bombs from behind the arc, pushing the Warriors’ lead to 89-69. VanVleet would come alive and score five quick points to help the Raptors go on a fake 8-3 run to finish the third frame, with a “manageable” deficit of 77-92.
Coach Nurse looked like he was just throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks; he inserted Malachi Flynn to start the quarter, going with an all-bench lineup. The Warriors took advantage of the Raptors’ inexperienced lineup, pushing the lead back up to 18. There seems to be something with death, taxes, and Flynn needing to shake off early jitters. Once Flynn warmed up, he made a mark right away when he stole the ball from Curry and found a cutting Chris Boucher for a layup in one sequence. The next play down, he found a cutting Precious Achiuwa for an “And-1.”
VanVleet’s back-to-back threes cut the Warriors’ lead to 103-93, but the Raptors would hit a wall, and the Warriors would go on an 11-0 run. The Raptors failed to recover, and that’s game—yet another game at the hands of poor half-court offense, and even worse defense. But hey, at least the “janky defense” held Curry to 12 points on 2/10 shooting, including 1/6 behind the arc, to keep Nurse’s reputation intact.
Up Next: The Toronto Raptors continue their road trip with a stop in Memphis against the Grizzlies.