The game started with a barrage of 3-pointers from Scottie Barnes, and ended with a barrage of makes from the Toronto Raptors’ third-stringers as the team cruised their way to a 139-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Halloween night.
It’s always a good sign when garbage time makes up half of the final quarter, but when you lay a beat down like this, you earn the right to rest your starters with a smile across their faces.
Through the first six games of the season, the Raptors offense has relied heavily on Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. The rest of the starters have typically been able to create off advantages, but for the most part, the offense has been lacklustre when Toronto’s two all stars are on the bench.
A few hours before game time, news broke of VanVleet’s lower back injury holding him out of tonight’s game, meaning someone was going to have to step up.
Enter: Rookie of the year, Scottie Barnes.
Barnes, not known for his 3-point shooting, headed into tonight shooting 6-12 on the season from deep. Really solid percentage wise, but off an extremely small sample size. Tonight, Barnes turned that narrative around, shooting 5-9 from beyond the arc, including three in a row early in the first quarter.
Barnes was arguably Toronto’s best player tonight, finishing with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists of 50% shooting. The other player in contention for that award, is a familiar face, Pascal Siakam.
Siakam finished with his second 30 point outing on the young season, and his fourth double-double, ending the game with 31 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists. Another great showing for the all star.
One all star who didn’t put up a great showing, was Atlanta Hawks point guard, Trae Young. Young, a prolific offensive player has typically found ways to put up productive and efficient nights ever since his dreadful summer league performance.
However, the man with no All-Defense awards to his name, but a guy who you have to think will finish his career with at least one, OG Anunoby had something to say about that! Young shot 3/13 from the field and finished with as many assists as he did turnovers. And yes, that number was in the double digits; 10! A solid triple double performance for Young with 14 points, 10 assists and 10 turnovers.
Anunoby almost matched Young’s turnover total in steals, finishing the game with 6, and a lot more great defensive efforts to pair with it.
Atlanta’s game plan early on was obvious, attack Christian Koloko. With VanVleet sitting out tonight, Nurse decided to go big and give Koloko his second start of his young career. The rookie looked overmatched at the start, but began to showcase some of those skills that make him such a potential-filled prospect.
Koloko finished with 3 blocks, and 9 points. Most of which, came off some beautiful pick and roll actions.
Malachi Flynn is another player I want to point out. If you didn’t watch the game, and just checked the box score, you would probably wonder why. No, he didn’t have a great game, but as the first guard off the bench, Flynn’s short time on the court pointed in a positive direction.
Flynn looked smooth operating as the pick and roll ball handler, and also in isolation situations. He was able to get into the paint for some difficult, yet silky layups. He only shot 1/3 on them, but it was a positive sight to see a Toronto guard not named Fred VanVleet, create high level offense.
I also want to shamelessly plug my YouTube channel, by shouting myself out for calling this Hawks collapse. Yes, I understand it’s only two games, one of them being to the still undefeated (at the point of writing this), Milwaukee Bucks.
But, after a quick 4-1 start against some weak competition, Atlanta has found themselves on the bottom end against some playoff-level competition, and I was the one to predict it first!
It felt good to finally witness a Raptors beat down. The 3-point shooting continues to be a pleasant surprise, as the Raptors knocked down 14 of their 34 attempts tonight.
The majority of the games this season have been heart-breaking losses in one way or another, or wins where the opposing team was able to stick around enough to make it uncomfortable.
Despite their hot 5-2 start to the year, the Raptors finally get to play a team who is not expected to be in playoff contention for their first November contest, against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.
A mini two-game west coast trip before they host a familiar face in DeMar DeRozan back at Scotiabank Arena for Toronto, as they hopefully look to drive their record a few games above .500.