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Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Dial 905: Raptors 905 back in the playoff picture after Mad Ants sweep, Ignite W

A suddenly-stacked Raptors 905 roster find themselves in the playoff picture after a four-game winning streak. Plenty of work needs to be done, but they are trending in the right direction.

The Raptors 905 got some much-needed Ws at the expense of the visiting Fort Wayne Mad Ants this past weekend, and topped it off with a win over the G League Ignite last night.

The Mad Ants came to town shorthanded for their two-game set, with depth as the swing factor for both games. Despite having the reigning G League MVP in Trevelin Queen, the Raptors 905’s relentless attacks were too much for the visitors.

Jeff Dowtin Jr. averaged 23 points, five boards, and 6.5 dimes for this series. What’s more impressive is he’s playing much more efficiently and, dare I say, confident with his offense. It looks like the run with the main club gave him that confidence-boosting “glow” en route to shooting 65.4% from the field, including 44.4% from behind the arc in 4.5 attempts.

Sterling Brown was probably the MVP of this series with his two-way play, putting up 19 points, six boards, and eight dimes. Brown also shot 60% from deep and anchored the bench mob in both games.

Joe Wieskamp showed us in this series that he’s not just a spot-up shooter, showcasing (for good or bad) the other facets of his game. His lack of burst/acceleration on his drives might hurt his opportunities to the basket, but leveraging spin moves and utilizing his length helped him get to the cup. Wieskamp’s also shown various ways he can get his three-point shots. He’s tried them off the bounce, on the move off-ball, and the patented Klay Thompson relocation for a better kick out to mixed success.

The reinforcements meant fewer shots for Ron Harper Jr. Perhaps a big development of his game — he’s been doing a better job of being a playmaker than a shotmaker these past few games. He’s been averaging 6.8 dimes over the last five games, getting reps to make plays for his teammates even in the half-court setting.

Unfortunately, Christian Koloko was not the best big man in this series, as that belonged to Kylor Kelley. The sparingly-used Oregon State big man had his best stretch in the G League, posting 15 points, nine boards, and 2.5 blocks.

Koloko should be looking into how Kelley’s getting his opportunities. His offense is limited to the team calling for his number in the half-court set. While Koloko is showing flashes of good decision-making at the nail and a nice midrange touch, being an “energy” guy can help his case to get a call-up with the main club. Given his size, length, and athleticism, there’s no way that Koloko should not get a couple of putbacks per game.

If anything, Koloko’s rim protection should be more than good enough for him to get 8-10 minutes a night. Heck, even one shift for 4-5 minutes.

After their victory over the ignite last night, the Raptors 905 have now won four straight games, propelling them into the playoff picture, sitting in 5th place in the East as of this writing. They have a tough schedule ahead of them, but the team’s been playing much better lately, especially with the reinforcements. However, kudos to coach Eric Khoury, as he’s pushing the right buttons regarding his rotations and doing a better job at making his players accountable. He’s been very Popovich/Spoelstra-like regarding his timeouts if he doesn’t like what he’s seeing, unlike before, where he was much more willing to let the players figure it out.

Game 21: Jeff Dowtin Jr. gets rid of the Mad Ants


Raptors 905: Christian Koloko (NBA), Joe Wieskamp (NBA), Ron Harper Jr. (2W), Jeff Dowtin Jr. (2W)

Fort Wayne Mad Ants: Trevelin Queen (2W)

Jeff Dowtin Jr. provided the spark needed by the Raptors 905 to create separation and douse the visitor’s late rally, defeating Fort Wayne Mad Ants 135-125.

Dowtin Jr. led the Raptors 905 with 26 points, nine assists, and five rebounds. He also had a good night from behind the arc, hitting 3-for-6 from deep.

Dowtin Jr. took over in the second period to give the home team some separation and again in the third period after the Mad Ants managed to keep the game close. The Mad Ants would rally for one last time late in the fourth, but Dowtin Jr.’s clutch pull-up three and an assist to a streaking Christian Koloko quickly diffused that rally.

Joe Wieskamp added 17 points while hitting 3-for-8 from the perimeter, aggressively hunting trifectas off the bounce and on the move. He also had five boards and two blocks, including a chase-down block. Sterling Brown added 17 points, six boards, eight assists, and two steals.

Christian Koloko chipped in 16 points, including key dunks late in the game. However, he got cooked a few times defensively by Mad Ants’ Jermaine Samuels, who’s clearly a big wing masquerading as a center out of necessity for the Mad Ants.

The Raptors 905’s bench outscored their counterparts 47-13 and had the clear size advantage for this game, outrebounding the visitors 51-40, leading to a 21-11 second chance points advantage. However, the pesky Mad Ants made the Raptors 905 pay for every mistake and slip-up, preventing the hosts from blowing the game away. Instead, they kept the game close several times throughout the game.

Indiana Pacers’ Two-Way contract player Trevelin Queen led all scorers with 33 points but looked out of control at times, committing a game-high six turnovers. Justin Anderson added a “pedestrian” 29 points and seven boards.

Game 22: Bench Mob too much for the Mad Ants


Raptors 905: Christian Koloko (NBA), Joe Wieskamp (NBA), Ron Harper Jr. (2W), Jeff Dowtin Jr. (2W)

Fort Wayne Mad Ants: Trevelin Queen (2W)

The Raptors 905 bench mob turned up a two-point first-quarter deficit and helped the hosts put up a decisive 44-26 second-quarter beating of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants as they cruised to a 129-114 win.

Sterling Brown’s outstanding two-way play led the raptors 905 with 21 points, six boards, and eight assists while anchoring the bench mob during their decisive run. Gabe Brown added 21 points, including four trifectas, while Kylor Kelley nabbed his career-high 18 points, seven boards, and three blocks. Brown and Kelley had the lion’s share of the 905’s bench firepower discrepancy, combining for 39 of the 57 points against the 12 bench points by the Mad Ants.

Jeff Dowtin Jr. helped steady the ship to start the game, providing the initial scoring when the team struggled out of the gate. He finished with 20 points and four dimes. Joe Wieskamp added 16 points, including four trifectas. Christian Koloko had a quiet night with six points, nine boards, and three blocks.

The Raptors 905’s starters took the baton from the bench mob midway through the second period to build an 18-point lead. Dowtin Jr.’s floater gave the hosts a 66-50 halftime lead.

Mad Ants’ Trevelin Queen imposed his will to start the second half, helping cut the Raptors 905’s lead to eight several times. Still, Sterling Brown and Dowtin Jr. stopped that thought by racing to a 21-point lead before handing over the game to the bench mob for a slightly competitive garbage time.

Trevelin Queen led the Mad Ants with 34 points, seven boards, seven assists, and three steals. Justin Anderson had a “quiet” 23 points, seven boards, and six dimes.

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