The Toronto Raptors continued their preseason schedule tonight as they welcomed the Cairns Taipans of Australia’s National Basketball League to Scotiabank Arena. It was the Raptors first preseason game at home in Toronto after they played last week in Vancouver, BC.
The team from Cairns — a small city located in Queensland, Australia — unfortunately was missing a lot of their roster due to injury and illness. They played with ten players total as opposed to the Raptors training camp roster of seventeen. On their roster was NBA Draft prospect Bobi Klintman.
In pregame media availability, Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic said that he has seen significant progress in the team over the last couple of weeks since training camp started. They’ve only had one preseason game so far, and therefore a lot of time to practice and build chemistry. Especially since the team is working to learn all the new systems and plays under the new coaching staff.
Toronto started Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Chris Boucher and Dennis Schroder — Jakob Poeltl was ruled out due to illness, causing Boucher to get the start.
The Raptors got out to a 21 point lead in the first quarter over the Taipans. The starters were pulled quite early on, and the team ended the quarter with a 38-17 lead.
There were a lot of lineup experiments in this game, especially when it came to trying out different combinations of the bench players.
If we are being honest, it wasn’t much of a competitive basketball game. The Raptors led from start to finish, with the biggest lead of the night being 41 points.
One highlight of the game was seeing Gradey Dick operate and play in Toronto for the first time. Though he only scored five sports, he was extremely active on the court and showed a lot of sparks of skill that could be useful for the Raptors in the regular season.
Basically no takeaways for Toronto against Cairns, but Gradey Dick is having a really cool game for a guy who's not hitting shots. He is way more than just a shooter.— Louis Zatzman (@LouisZatzman) October 15, 2023
In the end, the Raptors win 134-93.
The Raptors used all seventeen of their rostered players. The highest scorer was Javon Freeman-Liberty with 15 points, followed by Scottie Barnes with 14 points.
It was a great stretch of extended minutes for what will surely be a huge lineup for this year’s Raptors 905 team as well, so that’s a bonus.
In post game, Coach Rajakovic said that this game was a test of character for the team — saying that in games like this it’s easy for players to kind of “turn it off” at a certain point. He said he encouraged his team to keep locked in the entire game. He also mentioned how locked in they were from the start.
Rajakovic also mentioned the importance of ball movement and not forcing offence through one specific player. He stated the importance of playing as a team and said Siakam, as one of the best players in the league, will attract the ball more and be able to finish plays strong. due to the efforts of this new system.
When asked what Rajakovic has learned about Chris Boucher so far, he stated first “I learned that he’s skinny” — Coach has a sense of humour.
The Raptors will now travel to Chicago to face the Bulls before heading back to Toronto to finish up their preseason schedule against the Washington Wizards on Friday.
The regular season kicks off Wednesday October 25th against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Toronto.