The Raptors 905 just had enough to survive the Capital City Go-Go on Friday, a team with their “number” during the regular season and in the Showcase Cup. For the Raptors’ farm team to book a ticket in the NBA G League finals, they will have to do it again against the Delaware Blue Coats, who also flummoxed them in three games this season.
For coach Patrick Mutombo, he will have to do it again with the same roster that he had against the Capital City Go-Go. Reggie Perry won’t be returning to provide reinforcement this season, as the Portland Trail Blazers signed him for the rest of the season. Congrats to Perry, and I am pretty sure that coach Mutombo would rather not see him any time soon, in a good way.
We have signed Reggie Perry for the remainder of the season.— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 9, 2022
Dalano Banton, Justin Champagnie, and Kevon Harris had a productive first playoff game. Still, they will need more from David Johnson and Isaac Bonga to win tonight. The Raptors 905 need to protect the ball and prevent the Blue Coats from leaking out. The guards will have their hands full trying to contain the Sixers’ first-round pick Jaden Springer, averaging 21 points and three steals against the Raptors 905 in three games.
Despite finishing with the best record, the Raptors 905 might be a slight underdog heading into this matchup based on their head-to-head this season:
Nov 27th @ Delaware: 120-94 loss
The Raptors 905 had a “light” roster, with no Dalano Banton, Justin Champagnie, and Isaac Bonga for the trip. In the second half, the Delaware Blue Coats ran them out of the gym, with Paul Reed’s 22 points and Jaden Springer’s 24 points leading the way.
Nov 28th vs Delaware: 114-106 loss
Again, there’s no Dalano Banton, Justin Champagnie, and Isaac Bonga, despite this game being at home. Kevon Harris tried to put the team on his back with 28 points, and one of David Johnson’s better games with the Raptors 905 saw him score 21 points. Much like the previous game, Paul Reed was unstoppable with his 27-point double-double. The Raptors 905 rallied from 20 down to take the lead in the fourth, only to run out of gas.
Feb 5th vs Delaware: 126-121 loss
Reggie Perry was out for this game with a call-up, and Dalano Banton was also not assigned for this game. The Delaware Blue Coats dominated the Raptors 905 early, building a 26(!) point lead early in the second quarter, only to see the resilient Raptors 905 slowly chip away and eventually take an 8-point lead in the fourth quarter. Sadly, the Raptors ran out of gas, as Jaden Springer and Paul Reed showed the value of having the best players in the game, as the Blue Coats finished the game with a furious 21-8 run for a “comeback” win. Breein Tyree scored 22 points off the bench, while Kevon Harris added 20 points.
Feb 9th @ Delaware 109-104 win
Again, no Banton and Perry, but the Blue Coats played without one of their blue chips and a thorn on the Raptors 905’s side this time. The James Harden trade left the Philadelphia 76ers’ roster depleted, and Reed has only played one game with the Blue Coats since. The Raptors 905 also caught some luck, as Jaden Springer got injured to start the game, but that was the first time they met Shaquille Harrison, who led the Blue Coats with 24 points. The Raptors 905 outlasted the Blue Coats down the stretch, led by Aaron Best’s 21 points.
Where to Watch
NBA TV Canada & ESPN U, 7:00 PM EST
Raptors 905 – Dalano Banton (NBA), David Johnson (2W), Justin Champagnie (2W), Isaac Bonga (NBA), Kevon Harris
Delaware Blue Coats – Jaden Springer (NBA), Aaron Henry, Charlie Brown Jr (2W), Shaquille Harrison, Jared Brownridge
It doesn’t look like the Sixers will assign Paul Reed for this game, as they have a bigger picture to look at. Reed is currently getting a look as the backup centre behind Joel Embiid. Despite his penchant for fouling, he seems to be gaining traction with his play lately.
Even with no Reed, the Sixers’ guards and wings are taller and much more athletic. They feast off turnovers and quickly convert them into fastbreak opportunities. The Blue Coats have forced the Raptors 905 into a whopping 22.5 turnovers per game in four meetings. You don’t need to look into how that translates into fastbreak points, given how they got blown out a few times. They also have a deeper team. Consider this: The Delaware Blue Coats won the Winter League Showcase, and the MVP of the Showcase was former Raptors 905er Jarron Cumberland. He’s barely played for the Blue Coats in the “real” regular season.
Aside from Cumberland, there will be other Blue Coats who will be out for blood. Shamorie Ponds was a former Toronto Raptors two-way player. Old friend, Raptor legend Pat McCaw, is on the Blue Coats’ active roster.
Hopefully, Isaac Bonga’s toe issues won’t nag him for tonight’s game. He was almost a non-factor against the Capital City Go-Go, but made plays when it mattered. He was a matchup nightmare against the Blue Coats, and the Raptors 905 will have to rely on him to man the middle. Another factor going in the Raptors 905’s favour is that the Blue Coats haven’t played against Dalano Banton. The hosts have the element of surprise and can also get a bigger push with the fans now allowed on the stands. I have always wondered if the Raptors 905 would have held on to their lead back on February 5th if they had the home crowd to get them fired up to finish better down the stretch.