10 things I saw from Raptors-Warriors (Oct. 25)

  1. Silver linings: There’s no shame in losing to the Warriors on the road. The Raptors showed a lot of heart against the reigning champs and every player can proudly say they contributed something. This was an encouraging result, especially given how hard they competed throughout.
  2. Heartbreak: But they really should have won this one. The Raptors were up five with a minute left before the Warriors closed on a 10–0 run. Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry made some dagger threes to win it, while Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan couldn’t deliver. It’s a make or miss league, Duuuuug.
  3. How to close: The Raptors closed the game with a few simple isolation plays and naturally this led to a lot of bitching after the buzzer. The idea was that the Raptors moved the ball beautifully most of the night (30 assists) but froze it to play “Caseyball” down the stretch and failed. That’s an oversimplification.
  4. Context matters: The Raptors were not beating the Warriors with ball movement. They struggled with the Warriors’ length all night and could barely run plays at times. They didn’t just suddenly stop passing. They led because they had a ridiculous 17–6 advantage in offensive rebounds thanks to a superhuman effort from Jakob Poeltl. Otherwise the offense was blah and mostly limited to transition opportunities.
  5. So why close with ISO? Their logic is that nobody else could get a shot off. DeMar DeRozan could at least get a semi-decent look against a limited Andre Iguodala, and Kyle Lowry is roughly equal in size to Stephen Curry. Involving a ball screen would have invited a switch onto a bigger defender, or a trap, and the Raptors’ shooters weren’t really making any shots (8–34).
  6. So what do you want in this scenario? If everyone was hot, then yeah I’d be mad at these ISOs. But if nobody else could even get a shot off, and nothing was there in transition, then give me a step back from DeRozan or a driving layup from Lowry.
  7. Unsung hero: Shouts to Jakob “Not Jonas” Poeltl for laying it all on the line. He was a man possessed tonight with 11 offensive rebounds while playing tireless defense. This would have been a blowout without Poeltl creating all these extra possessions. He even stuffed KD at the rim. Can’t say enough about him.
  8. What? Him? Really??? Pascal Siakam randomly exploded for 20 points on 9–12 shooting while filling in for Jonas Valanciunas in the starting unit. He was active and switchy on defense (stopped Steph on a switch) and made the Warriors pay for ignoring him on defense. He revived the Raptors with a personal 10–0 run in the third as he made two threes and finished off some rolls to the rim
  9. Mature rookie: OG Anunoby was really shook to start. He was messing up the offense while also forgetting to box out and make basic rotations. But he gathered himself in the second half, made two threes, tossed some slick passes to Poeltl for layups, and finished as a plus-8. Loved how he persevered.
  10. Raptors pushed the Spurs and the Warriors right down to the wire on the road. It sucks to lose both but this is a very positive start for the team. All they need is for Lowry’s shot to come back and we good.