It was a tough watch tonight. A 119-108 final score gives the Toronto Raptors a lot more credit than they deserve. An 18-2 run early in the first quarter was by far the best stretch of basketball that the Raptors played tonight. It just so happened that this run followed a a start that put the Raptors down 10-0 quickly.
I am sitting here truly attempting to think of positive things to say about the Raptors tonight, but they are difficult to come by. It looked like they maybe had a chance, when they cut the Wizards’ lead down to 54-50 with a minute left in the half. Even that lead escalated to 59-50 by the time the halftime buzzer sounded.
The only reason this final score was this close, is because the Wizards were equally as bad defensively. It was a game of open shots, free drives to the basket, and sloppy play. The Wizards did manage to shoot 47% from 3-point range, which is honestly fantastic. Especially when you compare it to the 9/33 clip that Toronto shot.
Pascal Siakam had a short stretch in the first quarter where he looked like an All Star level player, but his missed wide open transition layup kind of defines the rest of his night.
Jakob Poeltl continues to not only look like a fantastic pickup, but arguably the most important player on the floor for Toronto. When he isn’t on the court, the defense looks terrible, the offense seems one dimensional, and the rebounding is non-existent. I know this isn’t every night, and I’m severely bitten by the recency bias bug, but his presence on the floor is unmatched.
He finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, and an impact that stretched far beyond that stat line. He finished with a +9 on the night. The only Raptors player with a higher +/- was Fred VanVleet, who finished at a +15. He shot 5/17 with 2 turnovers, but I guess he had an positive impact? Plus-minus is definitely one of those stats that you have to combine with the eye-test.
Not quite literally, but every game in this “second half” of the season is pretty near a must win for Toronto. For a team that has essentially placed themselves in a position where they are playing to win over the next few years, bouncing back and forth between the 9th and 10th seed is unideal to say the least.
Kyle Kuzma deserves some credit for scoring 30 points, including the first 10 points in the game. He ended the night inefficiently, shooting 10/24, but he was effective for the Wizards offensively.
This is one of the first basketball games that I can remember where nobody on either team was overly great. If you were to box score search, OG Anunoby would probably look like the best player in the game. He was the Raptors’ leading scorer with 26 points on 56% shooting from the field. Also some fairly solid defense on Bradley Beal, who was nearly invisible tonight.
OG also finished on a couple amazing flex-actions. The Raptors were able to give the ball to Poeltl in the high post, who then threw the ball down to Anunoby on the cross-screen. One of which even cut the Wizards’ lead down to nine early in the fourth quarter, but that would be the closest that the Raptors’ mini comeback would get.
As I’ve mentioned many times before, Anunoby is a fantastic 3-and-D option. His on-ball game is still awkward, and typically results in a turnover, or ineffective offensive set. However, if he can remain a player who is happy playing spot-up ball on offense, and an elite level defender, he will have a long successful career in the NBA.
There really isn’t much to say about this game, but that the Raptors need to play better on Saturday, where they will get an opportunity to rematch against the Wizards. Toronto continues to be a team that needs to win games, if they expect to finish in the top six. Quite honestly, they need to keep winning if they want to finish within the play-in tournament.