The Toronto Raptors played their second game in a three game home stretch tonight as the Portland Trail Blazers came to town. With Portland on a three game losing streak to start their season, not having Anfernee Simons in the lineup, and just the overall youth and inexperience on the team — it seemed like this could have been a easy win for Toronto. Well, then came a terrible shooting performance and a huge night for Portland on the defensive glass, and a win was not in the cards tonight.
The Raptors lost 99-91 to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Head Coach Darko Rajakovic started O.G. Anunoby (back after missing Saturday’s game with muscle cramps), Scottie Barnes, Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam and Dennis Schroder. Precious Achiuwa was ruled out with a groin strain and Christian Koloko continues to be out with respiratory issues.
On the Portland side, the starters were Matisse Thybulle, Jerami Grant, DeAndre Ayton, Shaedon Sharpe and Scoot Henderson. Simons is out with a thumb injury for 4-6 weeks, Ish Wainwright was out with a calf strain, and Robert Williams III was out for rest.
It wasn’t immediately a rough night for the Raptors, they got off to a decent start. The first quarter was more of a team effort, and while the Raptors led the Trail Blazers 25-21, the highest scorer on the Raptors was Siakam with six points. Siakam was extremely efficient and aggressive off the top, after only taking eight shot attempts in the game against Philadelphia.
The second quarter started off with a dip in offence due to the Raptors bench lineups not being able to connect in the offence. Other than Gary Trent Jr., there wasn’t much activity from the bench to start off this game — or to end it either to be honest. Chris Boucher quickly scored four points and three rebounds off the bench though, acting in as the backup center with Precious Achiuwa out of the game with a groin injury.
Pascal Siakam continued to be the highest scoring Raptor as Toronto went into the half up 50-47. Despite the close score, the Raptors were playing decent defence, just not converting as much on the offensive end. After Siakam, the only other Raptor in double digits was O.G. Anunoby with 10 points.
Schroder had six assists by halftime. He was active in the open court and continued to make Toronto efficient in transition. He was full of flashy passes, some successful assists and others falling short but still enjoyable to watch.
Schroder just used a stampede cut to get to the rim before you could blink. (Don't ask what else happened on the possession)— Louis Zatzman (@LouisZatzman) October 31, 2023
Scottie Barnes stepped it up in the third quarter, continuing his streak of being incredibly aggressive on both ends of the floor. Though this game was rough so many reasons, Scottie continues to be a bright spot — tonight he scored 20 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Siakam also continued to have a decent night, ending with 20 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
Yet the Raptors couldn’t push forward or gain any momentum. They were DOWN 80-74 going into the fourth, against a team where their highest scoring players were a 30 year old off the bench a a second year Canadian. That may have had to do with the Raptors shooting 19% from three point range during the first three quarters of the game.
Scottie Barnes through 3 games:— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) October 30, 2023
21.0 pts, 8.7 reb, 6.7 ast on 62.5 TS%.
Barnes is leading the Raptors in total pts, FGA, rebounds, blocks, paint points & second chance points. pic.twitter.com/VTe56PoCF9
That three point percentage only dropped as we approached the end of the game. In the end, the Raptors shot 13.8% from three the whole game, only making four out of their 29 attempts. That was really the kicker in the game. They took too long to make decisions in their half court offence and when it came down to crunch, they didn’t have a good shot to make. While they have been doing a little better in transition, this lack of cohesion in the half court is really starting to make the team lag.
Raptors shoot 4-for-29 from three, good for their worst 3P% in a game since they shot 13.3% in 2017.— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) October 31, 2023
It's their fewest made threes in a game since November 2018.
After the game, Darko Rajakovic commented on just this. He said they need to be faster in making decisions. He also mentioned the need to address team issues over individual issues when it comes to these offensive woes the Raptors are struggling with, and emphasized the need to stay together.
Another issue was the bench production, as most of Portland’s defensive rebounds came when Jakob Poeltl was sitting. Of course Precious Achiuwa was out, meaning your primary back up was missing — BUT 16 defensive rebounds from one player is still too many to be giving up. Gradey Dick made up for it a little bit by grabbing six of his own defensive rebounds, but the bench production on both ends of the floor needs to improve if the team is going to hold onto these winnable games. They scored a collective 17 points total out of the team’s 91.
Unfortunately, the schedule isn’t going to help the Raptors hopes of turning their early season record around. Their next game is against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday — also known as the Giannis and Dame show. After that, they head right to Philadelphia to face the 76ers for the second time in a week AND the second time they’ve faced them on a second night of a back to back. From there, they head to San Antonio to face the Spurs (potential win or Wemby showcase?), then to Dallas to face the Mavericks and Luka Doncic. They’ll end their road trip in Boston to face the championship hopeful Celtics before coming home.
After that, it’s another slew of tough opponents through the end of November that will have them see Milwaukee and the Celtics again as well as some other formidable opponents.
The Raptors will need to bring up their shooting percentages if they have a chance of beating some of these teams, but luckily their defence has been manageable for the most part — something that will help them in this stretch.
Catch the Toronto Raptors next game as they face the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. ET on TSN.