The Toronto Raptors managed to shake off all the noise last night for one quarter, and jumped out to an early lead over the Denver Nuggets. Then they kept that lead through the second… the third… and wait, they played a whole game start-to-finish with solid D and no offensive droughts? They can do that!?!
They sure did, and it was glorious.
You all know what today is. You all know what could happen between now and 3:00 p.m. Before that, though, let’s just enjoy everything that happened last night.
1. The Lowryest of Lowry Games
Zero points, five boards, seven assists and +22 in the first half? A career-best +42 by the end? That’s Kyle Lowry’s music! The only thing the man didn’t do last night was take a charge, but you know what, he’s taken more than enough in his career to date.
As I write this post-game, Lowry is a still a Raptor. But that doesn’t diminish how emotional it was to see him walk off the court last night. I have no idea how to write about Lowry leaving the game, about him signalling to the camera as he entered the locker room. I can’t do it here. All I know is, if it was Kyle’s last night as a Raptor, it was absolutely perfect.
2. Touch ‘em All
If this is the last game this starting five plays together, this play is a hell of a send-off:
THIS BALL MOVEMENT RIGHT HERE > pic.twitter.com/mydelRaZMl— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 25, 2021
Everyone touches it, the Nuggets nearly take it away twice, and it finishes with a Norman Powell corner three, probably the most consistent Raptors scoring threat all year. It doesn’t get any better than that.
3. The Future is Here
What a second quarter for OG Anunoby! Blocks? Check. Steals? Check. Crossover dribble drive? Fadeaway J? Three pointers? Massive rebounds against bigger players? ALL CHECKS.
Let’s also note that OG finished the first quarter with a pick-six dunk, and opened the third by breaking Nikola Jokic down off the dribble and finding Norman Powell for an and-1. Pretty good bookends! He finished the night with 23 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Anunoby was doing all of the above while also guarding Nikola Jokic, only one of the most dangerous offensive players in the game today — a guy who also has four inches and 50 pounds on OG. No one really slows Jokic down these days, but OG did about as well as anyone can.
The future is coming, really fast, but I think we gotta feel pretty good if Anunoby is making strides like this.
4. Comeback Night for Pascal
Pascal Siakam has had a rough season — heck, a rough year, now. He played poorly in the Bubble, poorly to start the season, and just when he started to look himself, he got locked in the COVID protocols. Now, the “altercation” with Nick Nurse last week has become the story of his season.
The only way to silence the chatter is to play better, and last night was definitely a step in the right direction. Siakam’s three-point stroke was back on form early, and he mixed the outside game nicely with some smooth drives and spins. (Denver’s iffy defense didn’t hurt, either.) He finished the game with 27-8-6, and some solid D on the other end as well.
Obviously I don’t know if we’ll ever get the pre-Bubble Siakam back on a consistent basis, but it was good to see he’s still in there somewhere!
5. Meghan McPeak is So Good
Everyone on the Raptors broadcast was superb last night, but I love listening to Meghan McPeak on the play-by-play. She’s got a great voice for play-by-play, her pitch rises and falls just enough, she didn’t miss any detail and she left the perfect amount of space for Kia Nurse to analyze the game action. I don’t mean this as a knock against Matt Devlin either, just that McPeak was fantastic and I hope we get to hear more from her on future Raptors broadcasts.
(This is a knock on Leo, though: Kia Nurse is the better analyst, and that’s facts.)
I do have one complaint about the broadcast, one that has nothing to do with who was on the air last night: If this was Kyle Lowry’s last game as a Raptor, the broadcast not showing his final introduction is a crime. The routine is legendary, and we deserved to see it one last time! Shame on the producers who didn’t think it was worth capturing.
What’s next? Who knows! All I know is I’m happy that last night went down the way it did, and that if Lowry and Powell are traded, well, I know I’m not ready for it. Team #runitback forever.