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Toronto Raptors fall to the Milwaukee Bucks 128-112 Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Dial 905: Raptors 905 fall to 0-5 after getting swept by Greensboro Swarm

The Raptors 905 are off to the worst start of their season, and it could get worse.

This is probably not the start to the season that GM Luke Winn and coach Eric Khoury were looking to see. The Raptors 905 are now at the bottom of the standings, winless through five games. This series against the Greensboro Swarm, one of the worst teams in the NBA G League, was an excellent opportunity to get into the win column. Still, injuries derailed the team, and they had to get replacement players to make it through the second game of the series.

To make matters worse, the only point guard on the team and the person holding the offense together, Markquis Nowell, fell to the injury bug as he injured his rib while trying to box out the bigger and stronger Nathan Mensah. They lost both games in Greensboro, which is disappointing, but any team missing 5-6 of their top 8 players will be hard-pressed to win any games.

Javon Freeman-Liberty continues to be sidelined by his ankle injury. At the same time, Ron Harper Jr. was earmarked for non-covid illness for the series. He made a cameo during garbage time against the Pistons yesterday, so he should be good to go this Monday. Justise Winslow remained inactive, and Jaylen Morris did not play in this series either.

Jaysean Paige, Kevin Obanor, and Darryl Morsell split the series, playing and tending to their injuries.

The 0-5 start makes it the franchise-worst start of the season, and it could get worse if their key players don’t get healthy anytime soon. The Raptors 905’s longest losing streak is at 9, so we’ll keep an eye on that. What’s concerning is the Showcase Cup is only 18 games long, and eight losses will likely knock a team out of contention.

Markquis Nowell played in essentially 2.5 quarters in this series, dropping 15 points, five dimes, and going for 2-for-4 from the perimeter. It’s encouraging to see Nowell playing off-ball, letting his teammates find him when he’s open around the perimeter, and making them as well. He’s a stabilizing presence to an already anemic offense without their better players, and this series showed his importance to the team.

Myles Burns continues to impress, averaging 17 points, 10 boards, and 4.5 stocks in this series. He’s probably the only bench player who took advantage and improved his stock while the starters were away. Mo Gueye had a solid 17.5 points, nine boards, and 2.5 blocks, clearly the best centre on the team. However, scoring with no Nowell proved a bit tougher for Gueye.

Speaking of centre, Makur Maker’s 5.5 points, 11 boards, and four dimes in this series are underwhelming. They went against an undersized team in the front court, and not only was he not able to impose his will down low, but he also played like Danny Green offensively in this series, attempting 12 of his 18 shots from behind the arc while hitting only one. We should see him bounce back from this performance.

Kevin Obanor made his debut, dropping 12 points off the bench on the first game of the series, but clearly had plenty of rust that needs to be worked on. He needs reps to get used to the game speed and build chemistry with his teammates.


The Raptors 905 had to get replacement players for the second game of their back-to-back against the Swarm. Isaac Johnson and Robert Johnson answered the call. They filled in admirably despite not having time to get real practice with the team, but it was just a one-day affair. They were waived right after the game.

The Raptors 905 waived Keith Williams after the series against the Swarm. Williams averaged 1.4 points per game but struggled shooting from anywhere on the floor, but his defense is top-notch. Unfortunately, the Raptors 905 have a lot of redundancy at his position and is in dire need of playmaking and shooting. We wish Williams all the best.

Showcase Cup Game 04: Raptors 905 went downhill after Nowell’s exit

When it rains, it pours. Again.

For the second straight game, the Raptors 905 had another player go down to an injury; this time, it was the person holding the team together from falling apart. Markquis Nowell left late in the third period due to an undisclosed injury (at the time) and the Raptors 905 fell apart almost immediately, giving the Greensboro Swarm their first win of the season, 108-82.

Mo Gueye led the team, scoring 13 of his 17 points in the first half. He also added six boards and three blocked shots. Markquis Nowell added 15 points and five dimes before exiting the game late in the third due to a rib injury. Myles Burns had another stellar performance off the bench with 16 points, 12 boards, and four steals. Kevin Obanor finally made his Raptors 905 debut, putting up 12 points off the bench.

Charlotte Hornets’ 41st overall pick Amari Bailey made his debut for the Swarm, carving the Raptors 905’s guards with 26 points and six boards. Nathan Mensah added 19 points and nine boards, while the Hornets’ other Two-Way contract player, Leaky Black, finished with 12 points, 11 boards, and eight assists.


Raptors 905: Markquis Nowell, Jaysean Paige, Omari Moore, Makur Maker, Mo Gueye

Greensboro Swarm: Terrell Brown Jr., RJ Hunter, Jaylen Sims, Trevon Scott, Nathan Mensah


Raptors 905: Markquis Nowell (TW)

Greensboro Swarm: Amari Bailey (TW), Leaky Black (TW)

Essentially, the game recap consists of Greensboro Swarm doing something and the Swarm’s video intern belatedly doing an instant replay that would eat up the entire possession of the Raptors 905. The Greensboro Swarm is very amateurish and unprofessional to let someone inexperienced operate their video feed. This would have been fine if this feed was just for the Swarm, but the NBA G League needs to look into this incompetence as the Swarm’s made this game almost unwatchable.

Ok, enough with the Rant. These two teams look evenly matched to start the game, as both alternated flashes of brilliance with reasons why they’re at the bottom of the standings. Omari Moore and Nowell’s two trifectas provided the early offense for the Raptors 905, but their bench let them down. Coincidentally, when the Hornets’ Two-Way contract players appeared late in the first quarter, the balance was tilted toward the Swarm. Amari Bailey pressured the Raptors 905’s defense by repeatedly getting into the paint, and while he’s unsuccessful and erratic at best, it caused a lot of holes in the Raptors 905’s defense, and allowed their players like Leaky Black to find openings to the basket. A late finger roll by Moore helped cut the Swarm’s lead to 26-21 at the end of the first.

The Raptors 905’s offense was in a rut to start the second frame. Still, with Nowell and Gueye back, they were able to power through it, cut the lead to five, and get Nathan Mensah in foul trouble in the process. The renewed energy allowed the Raptors 905 to keep up with the Swarm until they went on a 15-5 run behind Gueye and Obanor to take a 51-44 lead to end the half.

The Raptors 905 came out of the gate slow to start the second half, as they could not buy a shot, and to make it worse, it looked like Nowel got injured as he tried to box out Mensah, forcing him to head to the locker room. The Swarm’s perimeter shooting started clicking, and the offense couldn’t get going without Nowell. To compound the issue, they’ve made several erratic decisions that killed their possession or, worse, led to turnovers. The Swarm had flipped the tables on them, as a 14-7 start to the quarter got the hosts leading 62-58 around midway through the quarter.

Nowell returned after the break and made an instant impact, finding Obanor streaking in transition for a layup. However, Nowel’s stint was short-lived, as he was clearly in pain the entire time. He checked out of the game for good at the 3:33 mark in the third frame and went straight to the locker room again. The visitors went on a dry spell from there, missing five straight three-pointers, and Bailey closed out the quarter with a nifty layup to give the Swarm a 74-69 lead heading into the final frame.

Things escalated quickly in the fourth quarter, as the Raptors 905’s lack of creativity and offensive execution were exposed. It didn’t help that they had several self-inflicted damages by leaving plenty of points off the board by missing their freebies and after not seeing the ball go in, allowing their defence to fall apart. The Raptors 905 sleepwalked through the 19-5 Swarm run, and with the Swarm leading 93-74 with less than five minutes to go, the game was essentially over.

Showcase Cup Game 05: Ragtag Raptors 905 crew gets swept in Greensboro


Raptors 905: Markquis Nowell, Jaysean Paige, Omari Moore, Makur Maker, Mo Gueye

Greensboro Swarm: Terrell Brown Jr., RJ Hunter, Jaylen Sims, Trevon Scott, Nathan Mensah


Raptors 905: Markquis Nowell (TW)

Greensboro Swarm: Amari Bailey (TW), Leaky Black (TW)

The Raptors 905 and Greensboro Swarm went back at it again the next day, and the Raptors 905 had to get replacement players just to be able to field eight players for this game. Coach Eric Khoury’s team fought valiantly through three quarters until the talent discrepancy showed in the second half, and the Swarm took advantage of the visitor’s offensive futility for a second straight blowout in as many days.

Mo Gueye led the team again, putting up 18 points, 12 boards, and two blocked shots, while Myles Burns had another strong showing, chipping in 18 points, eight boards, and three steals as a starter. Darryl Morsell returned to this game after spending a game on the injury report, but clearly, he was not 100%, as he shot 1-for-12 from the field while being asked to play the point.

Jaylen Sims led the Swarm with 22 points, while Amari Bailey got his way with 19 points, seven boards, and six dimes off the bench. Terrell Brown Jr. almost had a triple-double, dropping 16 points, nine boards, and eight assists. Former Boston Celtics draft pick RJ Hunter added 15 points and five dimes.

The Raptors 905 had to field two replacement players for this game, and Isaac Johnson and Robert Johnson played their hearts out. However, it’s a tough situation for them as there’s no time to build chemistry with their new team as they joined the team on short notice. Regardless, both players got plenty of burn. Given the circumstances, Isaac Johnson’s six points, two boards, two steals, and Robert Johnson’s seven points, two boards, and an assist are better than expected. What doesn’t show on the box score is how hard they played, especially defensively.

The Swarm outscored the Raptors every quarter but had a hard time putting them away in the first half, as Eric Khoury’s ragtag crew outhustled and outworked their counterparts so that they keep up with them. However, with the game tied at 41 with five minutes left in the first half, the Swarm switched gears and went on a 10-0 run. The Raptors 905 managed to survive the last few minutes of the half, thanks to Omari Moore and Robert Johnson to keep the Swarm from running away, closing the half trailing the Swarm, 56-49.

The lack of chemistry and perhaps talent among the transition lineup that coach Khoury fielded midway through the third frame proved fatal, as the Swarm turned a 68-61 lead into a blowout by going on a 14-3 slow burn run to end the third frame with a commanding 82-64 lead, and pretty much seal the game.

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