Just like that we’re back for Toronto Raptors preseason action. The team was in Edmonton, Alberta tonight to play their first official game of the preseason against the Utah Jazz, and our Edmonton friends brought the atmosphere! This game was part of the NBA Canada Series, an attempt to bring NBA basketball to different places across Canada.
It was the first time the Raptors took to the court after ending last year’s rocky season by losing in six to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.
Not that the preseason matters towards the overall standings, but these games are a good opportunity for the team to shake off the dust, figure out lineups, and prepare for the real thing! As for fans, we’re just excited to be able to watch some Sunday Toronto Hoops again.
The game itself was a great first look at this ever-developing team. It started off a little rocky, but that’s to be expected. A few turnovers were overshadowed by steals, defensive energy, and a few of those chef’s kiss three-pointer shots Raptors fans know well.
The Raptors went into half time up 50-49 against the Jazz — who, by the way, are undergoing some serious rebuilding. They traded star players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell in the offseason and are figuring out their very new roster. That won’t stop us from celebrating a good win, though.
2021-22 Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, who grows more into a fan favourite by the day, looked great from the start. He had energy on defence, made some great plays, and showed off the (quite obvious) bulking he’s done in the offseason.
Precious Achiuwa, in his second season with the Raptors after coming to Toronto from Miami as part of the Kyle Lowry trade, also looked great. He made a three-pointer, grabbed some rebounds and got 10 quick points. He is someone to keep an eye out for this year when it comes to incoming improvement.
As we rolled into the second half, it was the newer guys who showed out for the Raptors. For most of them, these preseason games are a tryout as they compete to secure one of the final roster spots on the team. There are six players competing for three open spots.
Dalano Banton, Juancho Hernangomez, DJ Wilson, Justin Champagnie, Gabe Brown and Josh Jackson are all up for those spots, and they got ample playing time tonight to show off their skills.
The arguable standout was Toronto boy Dalano Banton (#Rexdale), who showed off his speed with a few coast to coast trips to the rim. He played a stint with the Canadian National Team recently and looks in great shape heading into this season. He has a great handle and shows spurts of excellent shooting ability. Keeping him could mean a great backup point guard option.
Hernangomez is another player getting a lot of buzz. He brings obvious star power (Hustle ft Adam Sandler anyone?), and brings a big presence to this team.
The score widened in the Raptors’ favour in the third quarter, and by the fourth it was a certified blow out for Toronto. Scoring was even across the board — Chris Boucher led with 11 points, followed by Josh Jackson and Precious Achiuwa with 10 points, and Gary Trent Jr and Dalano Banton each with nine.
The Raptors secures the win 114-82, kicking off the short preseason with a win.
It was a great night in Edmonton and set the tone for what should be a really fun season. The Raptors are set to become an energetic and probably frustrating team for many of their opponents.
They’ll now head to Boston where they’ll face the Celtics on Wednesday, and then to Houston to play the Rockets Friday. The team will make a stop in Toronto to host Chicago next Sunday, then wrap up their preseason in Montreal where they will host the Celtics on October 14.
Make sure to check out some preseason action from the Raptors as we prepare to head into the 2022/23 NBA season!