The Raptors 905’s Showcase Cup playoff hopes are starting to dim as they came up short against the Delaware Blue Coats last night, 127-117. The loss is the fourth straight for the 905, who probably need to win at least five of their next seven games to move on to the playoff round.
Despite being healthier, stacked, and bigger than the Blue Coats, the Raptors 905 barely had enough to go toe-to-toe with the home team through three quarters. The Blue Coats played admiringly with a bigger heart, as they wanted the win more than their opponent. Their defense clogged the paint for the Raptors 905, and the visitors were relegated to shooting off-rhythm three-pointers or relying on individual plays that didn’t work out well often enough.
Raptors 905: Jeff Dowtin Jr., Justin Champagnie, Ron Harper Jr., Gabe Brown, Reggie Perry
Delaware Blue Coats: Mac McClung, Charlie Brown Jr., Julian Champagnie, Patrick McCaw, Derek Culver
Raptors 905: Jeff Dowtin Jr. (TW), Ron Harper Jr. (TW), Justin Champagnie (NBA)
Delaware Blue Coats: Julian Champagnie (2W)
Reggie Perry shook off a slow start to finish with a monster 24 points AND a career-high 24 boards. Unfortunately, his production came with a game-high six turnovers. Ron Harper Jr. added 24 points, getting off to a hot start like Gabe Brown, but the team went away from them, and they went cold for most of the game. Jeff Dowtin had a quiet 21 points and nine assists. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the QB1 for tonight’s game.
24 PTS 24 REB 10 OREB— NBA G League (@nbagleague) December 2, 2022
Reggie Perry MADE HISTORY! The @Raptors905 star dropped his first-ever 20-20 game. His 24 boards is a new career-high and is a new franchise record for the 905. #AWholeDifferentLeague pic.twitter.com/Pn31m6kz5q
The Blue Coats’ stellar point guard play from Skylar Mays (26 points, five assists) and Mac McClung (21 points, ten assists, and ten rebounds), especially in the fourth quarter, gave the home team just enough to keep the Raptors 905 from stealing the game back.
Meanwhile, the Blue Coats’ Julian Champagnie won tonight’s bragging rights at the Champagnie household. Julian led all scorers with 27 points and ten rebounds, while Justin took a while to get back into game speed, finishing with 22 points and ten rebounds. Julian looked more polished between the two, showcasing his guard skills, while Justin had to rely on his hustle and manufacture shots around the basket. Justin looked winded early in the game and operated slower than his teammates. In his second shift, he looked closer to his form last season.
Hassani Gravett made his debut for the Raptors 905, and he made an immediate impact with his passing and court vision. Unfortunately, the Raptors 905 needed more from its bench, and for the second straight game, the bench disappointed, combining for 10 points.
Toronto’s old friend Patrick McCaw started for the Blue Coats but left with a knee injury four minutes into the game. Canadian Karim Mane added seven points off the bench for the Blue Coats.
The Raptors 905 would raise a multi-possession lead several times throughout the game, but instead of stepping on the gas, their sloppy offense and/or defense allowed the Blue Coats to hang around. They looked content to just keep the game like this, for the most part, knowing that they have the talent advantage and perhaps a next gear to get into.
Justin Champagnie struggled in his 2022-2023 debut, and from the looks of it, he’s probably in the same shape as he was back in December 2021, when his offense was starting to come along. His perimeter shot was non-existent, missing the fluidity he displayed over the last few months last season.
Perry’s having a season-long turnover issue, and committed five of his six turnovers in the game’s first six minutes. Perhaps the most disappointing part is seeing Perry not hustle back on defense on his turnovers. Gabe Brown and Ron Harper Jr. combined for 19 points in the first period, but the Raptors 905 could not contain Julian Champagnie, who scored 16 points in the first period.
The Blue Coats buckled down defensively from the second quarter onwards, mixing in a zone to compensate for their lack in size. Mac McClung and Skylar Mays provided the scoring punch for the hosts, as the Raptors 905 did a better job containing Champagnie this time. Jeff Dowtin Jr. tried to take over late in the second, as the Blue Coats were threatening to take the momentum away, and he was able to do enough to keep a 62-61 Raptors 905 lead at the half.
Warriors Steve Kerr: “We cut Mac McClung because we’re looking for a “pass first” kind of point guard and Mac isn’t that.” ♂️— GSG the Original (@GSGtheOriginal) December 2, 2022
Breaking: Mac McClung posts first TRIPLE-DOUBLE 21 P, 10 A, 10 R, averaging 22.1 Points, 6.4 Assists & 5.0 Rebounds per game. pic.twitter.com/s6oOtTO4Zo
The Raptors 905 started the second half humming, quickly putting up a 7-0 run as Dowtin Jr. found Harper Jr. for an early transition dunk. Gravett’s nifty backdoor pass to Justin Champagnie for a dunk gave the Raptors a 73-66 lead early in the third frame, but this was the last time the Raptors 905’s offense looked comfortable. Mays led a 9-2 Blue Coats run to tie the game, and the team went neck-and-neck the rest of the quarter, with the Blue Coats taking a 93-92 lead at the end of the third frame.
Things started to fall apart for the Raptors 905 at the start of the final period. Their lack of urgency on defense was compounded by a tough stretch by David Johnson, who committed an offensive foul, gave up an and-1, and bricked a three-pointer, allowing the Blue Coats to put up a 98-92 lead. It prompted coach Khoury to put Dowtin Jr., Harper Jr., and Perry back, but it didn’t lift their defense, allowing Derek Culver to add four more points and give the Blue Coats a 102-92 lead.
The Raptors 905 managed to cut the lead to five a couple of times, but Perry picked up his 5th foul with seven minutes still in the game, prompting coach Khoury to take him out of the game. Perry’s rest was not long, as he was back after 90 seconds. The Raptors 905 would make one last run, capped by Harper Jr.’s pick-six, cutting the lead to 116-113, but Perry’s turnover pretty much deflated their run, as Julian Champagnie’s layup gave the Blue Coats enough buffer to hold on to the lead.
GET OUT THE WAY— Raptors 905 (@Raptors905) December 2, 2022
Ron makes it a one-possession game pic.twitter.com/GFj9b6gRev
This loss was another game where coach Khoury failed to problem-solve the adjustments that the opposing teams were making. With an imbalanced roster, he couldn’t shake the opposing team’s zone defense. His options are limited. The Raptors 905 are sound defensively whenever Kenny Wooten is on the floor, but he cramps up the space for Perry, Harper Jr., and Dowtin Jr. to operate. Ryan Hawkins’ shooting is theoretical, and his defense is non-existent. Speaking of defense, there are plenty of holes defensively, from point-of-attack to lack of cohesion in their team defense, and, most of all, effort. Coach Patrick Mutombo went through growing pains in the Showcase Cup last season, but he had a significantly better roster with their defensive chops and overall effort. Can Khoury do the same?