It’s always a fun evening when DeMar DeRozan enters Scotiabank Arena to face the Toronto Raptors. Even though the preseason as a whole is never as fun as a meaningful matchup, both teams put on a show tonight for the crowd in attendance, and we saw a (mostly) competitive, yet sloppy game.
The Raptors couldn’t pull this one out, losing their second preseason game in a row, this one to the Chicago Bulls, with a final score of 115-98. A final score that doesn’t completely depict the entirety of the contest.
The Toronto Raptors headed into the fourth quarter up 80-78, and Nurse subbed in a lot of guys who likely won’t be on the roster by the end of the preseason. The Bulls won the fourth quarter 38-18, and created the massive deficit which ended up being the game.
For starters, I will admit that I was wrong. Toronto continued to play their starters and most of their rotation guys over 20 minutes each. Is this common in preseason? Do I just typically not pay attention? I could have sworn all stars, and starting caliber players compete in a couple preseason contests, then rest up for the regular season ahead.
We saw why this way of doing things might be dangerous as Scottie Barnes limped to the bench after a small collision. Fortunately, he was back in the game without missing much time. This should leave no rust-excuses for the players once the ball tips on October 19!
We saw a common theme while the rotation players were in the game, and that was ATTACK NIKOLA VUCEVIC. The Raptors put Vucevic in pick and rolls, isolated on him, tried to get him to switch onto the ball handler, and they succeeded in doing so.
It will be an intriguing watch this year to see how teams with plodding big men cover the Raptors. The most logical option for a matchup would seem to be Scottie Barnes. Considering Barnes doesn’t have a fantastic jump shot, loves to play around the rim, and seems to be the roll man in a lot of offensive actions, he would be my personal choice as an opposing coach, and it seems that Billy Donovan would agree.
However, you still noticed a lot of moments where Barnes would square Vucevic up directly and take him off the dribble. The way Toronto is set up, they will have mismatches for and against them, and if they can manage to guard true centers on the defensive end, they could be a matchup nightmare for a lot of teams.
We also saw the opposite plan of attack for the Raptors as well. When Vucevic was off the floor, we saw Toronto attempt to get small guards like Ayo Dosunmu on Pascal Siakam or Barnes, and we saw Toronto quickly dump those matchups into post-up situations.
Another note from tonight is that Gary Trent Jr. heard all of your Precious noise! Trent played extremely well tonight, finishing with 17 points off 6 for 8 shooting, and you could see how needed his 3-point shooting is going to be this season.
For a while there, even though Toronto was maintaining a lead, and scoring at a solid pace, the offense just seemed like a grind with a lot of the scoring coming from inside the paint. Which is extremely ironic for a team full of mobile, versatile wings.
Also... Dalano Banton... Again... Enough said.
Toronto will head one province East on Friday to play in front of what is hopefully another great crowd in Montreal, Quebec, as they look to finish the preseason with another win against the Boston Celtics!