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Greensboro Swarm v Raptors 905 Photo by Christian Bonin/NBAE via Getty Images

Dial 905: Dalano Banton helps Raptors 905 rediscover their identity, salvage a split vs. Greensboro Swarm

Dalano Banton’s late addition to the second game of the Raptors 905 matchup against the Greensboro Swarm injected the team with the much-needed energy to get the team back on track.

The Raptors 905 hosted the Greensboro Swarm for a baseball series earlier this week. The visitors took the first game and handed the hosts their sixth loss in a row — a matinee game in front of thousands of students at Scotiabank Arena, 116-101. The main club sent Dalano Banton down for the second game, injecting the team with defense and intensity, helping them snap their losing streak with an impressive effort on both ends of the floor, 114-101.

The front end of the back-to-back continued the same trend that plagued the Raptors 905 through the course of their losing streak. It’s not like the Raptors were playing like a complete pylon on defense, but sometimes they would put up a great defensive stand in one possession, only to squander it by giving up easy putbacks.

In this game, the Swarm’s ballhandlers got downhill, and the hosts couldn’t stop them from scoring in the paint. The issue puts the spotlight on whether there should be a better effort on the point-of-attack defense, if the defensive rotation/help defense is not in-sync, and the team’s overall communication, effort and commitment defensively for the entire game. Oh, and it didn’t help that they got off to a slow start offensively.

It also didn’t help that the Raptors 905 are working Justin Champagnie into the lineup, and he looks like he’s still several games away from where he was at last season. The loss of Saben Lee left a big hole defensively, but that’s only partially why the Raptors 905 have been giving their opponents around 126 points per game these last six games.

“The good news is we play them again tomorrow, and the bad news is if we play the same way, we’ll lose again,” Coach Eric Khoury said after the game.

The Raptors 905 got a boost with Dalano Banton’s assignment for the second game against the Swarm. He set the tone early and often, showing his teammates the Raptors’ brand of basketball. However, it felt like the team didn’t need him to do that, as everybody was locked in from the jump. Jeff Dowtin Jr. was picking up his man full court, and everyone made an excellent effort to slow down the Swarm’s downhill attacks.

For the first time this season, the opposing team felt the Raptors 905’s length, whether in the passing lanes or while dribbling the ball for the entire game. It led to the tried and tested Toronto Raptors formula of generating offense through opposing teams’ turnovers. However, the most impressive part is that the Raptors 905 were finishing defensive possessions with an excellent effort, making the Swarm uncomfortable and barely getting into their offense.

I thought we ramped up the ball pressure a little bit. Big point of emphasis going into the game is we want to attack them defensively; we don’t want them to sit back and try to prevent them from scoring, we want to attack them when we’re on defense and dictate what they do, so the ball pressure is quite a bit better, and that takes them out of their sets.
— Raptors 905 head coach Eric Khoury after the 114-101 win over the Greensboro Swarm

They held the Swarm to 23.3% from behind the arc, including Xavier Sneed and Jalen Crutcher to a combined 2-for-13 shooting. That’s a much better stat line to see compared to the 9-for-17 in the previous game. The Sneed/Crutcher/Simmons trio was limited to 48 points, compared to 72 points on Monday.

Overall, coach Eric Khoury made excellent adjustments for this game as well. His message about effort and defense manifested on the floor, and the team was executing more of their playbook, generating ball movement for the most part. More importantly, changing his rotation so that Perry and Dowtin Jr. to close the first and third quarters allowed them to keep their momentum going.

Showcase Cup Game 11: Raptors 905’s offense falls flat, dropping their sixth straight game, 101-116


Raptors 905: Jeff Dowtin Jr., Justin Champagnie, Ron Harper Jr., Gabe Brown, Reggie Perry

Greensboro Swarm: Jalen Crutcher, Kobi Simmons, Isaiah Whaley, Xavier Sneed, JT Thor


Raptors 905: Jeff Dowtin Jr. (TW), Ron Harper Jr. (TW), Justin Champagnie (NBA)

Greensboro Swarm: JT Thor (NBA)

The Greensboro Swarm made light work of the Raptors 905, with an open lane to the basket for most of the game, exacting their matinee game loss three weeks ago. Jalen Crutcher got to the cup unimpeded over and over, leading to 28 points for the game. Kobi Simmons, another Swarm player that took advantage of the free pass to the bucket, dropped 23 points and six assists. Xavier Sneed was hot from the perimeter the entire game, dropping five three-pointers en route to 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Reggie Perry tried to put the Raptors 905 on his back, leading the team with 28 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Ron Harper Jr. and Jeff Dowtin Jr. both chipped in 20 points. The rest of the team shot 30.6% from the field. It also didn’t help that the team coughed up 21 turnovers collectively.

Raptors 905 old friend Ashton Hagans, whom the Swarm acquired through the available player pool a couple of weeks ago, made it tough for his former team with his hard-nosed defense. Hagans collected four steals while adding 12 points and five assists. LiAngelo Ball made a cameo, doing some light cardio.

It didn’t help that the Raptors 905 got to a slow start for this matinee game, as unforced turnovers saw them trail the Swarm early, 11-4. Dowtin Jr. picked it up in the first period, pushing the Raptors to within 21-20, while Perry picked up two early fouls. The closing lineup could not maintain the same momentum, letting the Swarm build a 29-23 lead.

The transition lineup struggled to start the second period, allowing the Swarm to go on a 19-6 run since the late 1st quarter. Perry and Dowtin Jr. tried to hold the fort, but Hagans and Crutcher routinely broke down the Raptors 905’s defense, while Sneed finished the half strong, giving the Swarm a 61-44 lead at the half.

The Swarm opened the second half with a 20-11 run and a 26-point lead midway through the third period. Perry and Dowtin Jr. linked up again to get the Raptors 905 back in the game behind a 15-2 run to cut the lead to 83-70, but coach Khoury decided to give Perry his scheduled rest with less than three minutes left in the quarter. The gamble paid off, as Harper Jr. picked up the lack, cutting the lead to 71-82 early in the fourth period.

However, the Swarm stomped the Raptors 905’s rally, taking advantage of the Raptors 905’s defensive breakdowns, going on a 12-3 run to put the game away.

It was a disappointing loss in front of loud and energetic students and some notables from the main club. The front office (Bobby Brown and Shelby Weaver), Coach Nick Nurse and his coaching staff (Nate Bjorkgren, Adrian Griffin, Jim Sann, Rico Hines), and players Fred VanVleet, Dalano Banton, Christian Koloko, and Pascal Siakam were also in attendance.

Showcase Cup Game 12: Dalano Banton to the rescue, as the Raptors 905 snap their losing streak, 114-101


Raptors 905: Jeff Dowtin Jr., Justin Champagnie, Ron Harper Jr., Dalano Banton, Reggie Perry

Greensboro Swarm: Jalen Crutcher, Kobi Simmons, Isaiah Whaley, Xavier Sneed, JT Thor


Raptors 905: Jeff Dowtin Jr. (TW), Ron Harper Jr. (TW), Justin Champagnie (NBA), Dalano Banton (NBA)

Greensboro Swarm: JT Thor (NBA)

The Raptors 905 found their identity with a little help from Dalano Banton, as they put pressure on the Greensboro Swarm for the entire game, forcing them to tap out 114-101.

Reggie Perry led all scorers with 24 points. The Raptors 905 leaned on his excellent two-way play, notching another double — his sixth over the last seven games. Perry was not only the offensive anchor for the Raptors but also a terror in the paint, tying his season-high four blocks. Jeff Dowtin Jr. added 19 points and eight assists to no turnovers. Dalano Banton, on his first assignment with the Raptors 905 this season, added 19 points and four assists.

The Raptors 905 had to survive Ashton Hagans’ first-half assault, scoring 15 of his 23 points in the first half while claiming that Sauga is his city. He also tallied five assists and three steals. Kobi Simmons added 19 points and six assists, while Jalen Crutcher contributed 16 points and seven assists.

Raptors 905 opened the game with excellent ball movement and a much better defensive effort. Seeing Dowtin Jr. pick up his man 94 ft away set the tone, as the hosts jumped ahead 8-2. It didn’t take long until we saw the last year’s version of Raptors 905: A great switch by Justin Champagnie, leading to a block on Xavier Sneed, Reggie Perry helping out to force a turnover, and Dalano Banton, running the fastbreak at 100 km/h to turn defense into offense just like that. However, the Swarm eventually found cracks in the Raptors 905’s defense, with Ashton Hagans leading them, 17-14. For the first time in ages, the Raptors 905’s closing lineup played excellent defense AND delivered offensively, finishing with a 13-6 run to end the quarter up, 29-25.

Perry and Dowtin Jr. helped the Raptors 905 to another great start, combining to give the Raptors 905 a ten-point lead. They played tough defense, but could not capitalize and extend their lead. The Swarm got to the hole at a higher clip when Perry went to the bench, cutting the lead to three several times. The Swarm kept inching closer to the Raptors 905, and eventually got to within one. Just when you think Perry’s corner three was enough to kill the Swarm’s momentum, Hagans led the Swarm to a 7-3 run to close the half, including a half-court heave to give the Swarm a 60-57 lead.

The Raptors 905 “vets” really showed how it’s done to open the third period. Banton’s picking up guys full court, putting pressure on the ballhandlers, making them feel his length, and causing a couple of pick-sixes, as the Swarm was forced to call an early timeout when the Raptors 905 went on a 6-0 run to start the second half. All of a sudden, the Swarm were more conscious of the Raptors 905’s length, and with their commitment to stay in front of their man and making a better effort with help recognition and rotation. The Raptors 905 slowed down the Swarm’s downhill attacks, allowing Perry to be in a position to contest at the rim and block a couple of shots.

Dowtin Jr. and Banton took turns breaking down the Swarms’ defense, complementing their defense, leading to an 80-68 lead. However, Hagans was determined to make the Raptors 905 see what they were missing, scoring in consecutive possessions to prevent his former team from blowing this game up with his own 6-0 run, and forcing turnovers on the other end. Perry’s personal run to close the quarter, a pick-and-pop trifecta and a deep position under the basket for a layup gave the Raptors 905 another solid finish and an 85-74 lead.

The Swarm tried to make another push in the final frame behind JT Thor, taking advantage of Perry’s breather, but Dowtin Jr. held the fort for the hosts. The Raptors 905’s bench also chipped in, with Hassani Gravett and Ryan Hawkins hitting a couple of threes en route to a 101-87 lead. The Swarm never got back in the game, as the Raptors 905 defended and showed effort on both ends of the court, leading to perhaps their best victory of the season.

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