Quick Reaction

Quick Reaction: Raptors 108, Hawks 93

It’s nice to have the Hawks on the schedule after every tough loss, apparently.

Toronto 108 Final
Box Score
93 Atlanta

S. Ibaka24 MIN, 12 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 4-9 FG, 2-4 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 17 +/-

The three-day-off juice is real for him. He looked really spry here, attacking forcefully against close-outs and after pump-fakes and chasing down block opportunities in transition. Perhaps most impressive was how he moved the ball, something that hasn’t been a strength even in the new system. Set some good screens on DHOs with the guards, too. Even if the final line was humble, a very encouraging performance.

O. Anunoby24 MIN, 10 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 4-5 FG, 2-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 8 +/-

Really good bounce-back game here, especially shooting the ball. He air-balled one early and that was his only miss of the night – he had a dunk in transition, a nice transition cut from the corner, and a pair of threes, including one coming after a dribble on a hand-off. Given that he’s probably hitting a bit of a wall (he only played 50 games total over the last two years), the three days off probably did him good.

J. Valanciunas24 MIN, 16 PTS, 13 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 7-14 FG, 0-1 3FG, 2-3 FT, 3 BLK, 1 TO, 19 +/-

Has there been a better stretch of play for Valanciunas in his career? I’m sceptical there has been. He was terrific here, showing force on the glass at both ends, flashing his range with a 20-footer and his now-trademark spinning baseline 10-footer, and he’s rarely protected the rim as well as he did here. The Raptors making a concerted effort to get him involved on offense has really energized him at both ends. Just a really, really good couple of weeks for Valanciunas.

K. Lowry28 MIN, 9 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 3-10 FG, 3-9 3FG, 0-1 FT, 1 BLK, 4 TO, 16 +/-

This was better than his shooting line would suggest, and was one of Lowry’s better defensive games of the season. He did a nice job creating for others around his threes, although some of that creative passing led to turnovers. Put the clamps on Schroder in the pick-and-roll and made him really angry, which is always good to see. Also drew the most telegraphed offensive foul ever when Ilyasova tried to post him up.

D. DeRozan27 MIN, 14 PTS, 3 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 4-12 FG, 1-2 3FG, 5-6 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, 11 +/-

Basically spent the night in wait-and-see mode, accepting extra defensive attention and letting the role players work. He didn’t shoot particularly well (14 points on 15 possessions) but moved the ball, threw a couple of degree-of-difficulty kick-out passes, and kept others involved without forcing too much to get going.

P. Siakam20 MIN, 6 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 3-5 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-2 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 6 +/-

My goodness, the defense in this game. The Raptors were aggressive switching in the second unit, and he took a turn on just about everyone. He helped on the defensive glass, too, and really looked to push himself off of those, which is a potentially huge part of his game (and a nice reward for him cracking back instead of leaking out). He scored twice in those push scenarios. He also continued to flash his passing skill, hitting Wright on a cut from the elbow in a nice give-and-go sequence.

J. Poeltl18 MIN, 6 PTS, 5 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 3-7 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 BLK, 3 TO, 11 +/-

Likewise a very strong defensive game here. At different times he guarded Prince, Delaney, and Dorsey and did a good job protecting the rim against each. Had a couple of smart cuts for easy baskets, broke up a lob on defense, and forced a turnover on another switch onto a wing. He did have a few turnovers and missed a couple of shots his normally-70-percent self makes, but this was great.

D. Wright18 MIN, 7 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 2-5 FG, 0-1 3FG, 3-4 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 2 +/-

It’s always funny when Wright has a 1-of-4, 5-point kind of line, because it’s a safe bet he did way more than that would suggest. He was strong defensively, had a great steal as the Hawks went the other way in transition, and had a hilarious moment where he picked up his dribble wide open for a long two but his efficiency brain wouldn’t let him shoot it (he would shoot a long two later and miss). The usual Wright game, without the scoring. Deferred to a red-hot VanVleet.

F. VanVleet18 MIN, 19 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL, 6-9 FG, 4-6 3FG, 3-3 FT, 3 BLK, 0 TO, 13 +/-

Sniffed his career-high and was just tremendous. Going 19-7-5 in 18 minutes, while shooting 67/67/100? That’s great work, and he didn’t commit a single turnover. He also came up with two steals and blocked three (!) shots, a career-high (obviously). His confidence in his three has grown a lot, which is the most important part of what he can bring on offense. If he can finish like he did here (two tough ones; he is bottom-5 in finishing in the restricted area) with more regularity, that’s big.

C. Miles15 MIN, 9 PTS, 0 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 3-8 FG, 2-4 3FG, 1-2 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 8 +/-

Really wasn’t asked to do much here. Knocked down a couple threes, hustled after loose balls, put it on the deck and found Poeltl on a cut, and even tried to protect the rim (but got called for a goaltend). Solid outing.

N. Powell11 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 0-2 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -8 +/-

The rotation expanded in the first half, and Powell made good use of the minutes despite a scoreless night. He navigated switches well, got into passing lanes, and made smart plays within himself, including a great find for a trailing VanVleet in transition when Powell was already near the paint. Good confidence builder until the fourth, although he probably would have liked some shots to fall.

L. Nogueira6 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-2 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-2 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -15 +/-

Relegated to garbage time with the other centers playing well, Nogueira didn’t seem particularly engaged, grabbing one rebound and missing both threes and free throws. Just wasn’t involved a ton.

A. McKinnie6 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -13 +/-

Got six minutes of blowout action, which is always great for the end-of-bench guys. He always brings a nice energy, though he did commit a pair of turnovers here. The -13 in garbage time puts an end to the Raptors’ penchant for huge low-minute plus-minuses. For shame. I’m not gonna hang the late-fourth slide on a guy who hasn’t played in weeks. He’ll probably get more time to shake off any rust in Mississauga on Saturday.

Dwane Casey

Thought he coached this one more or less perfectly. They switched everything one-through-four out of the gate, daring an under-equipped Hawks team to win 1-on-1 battles. Even when the switching wasn’t on-point, the Hawks couldn’t muster much (90.3 defensive rating). Expanding the rotation in the first half and giving the bench plenty of leash made sense with a tough game Friday and this being the start of 12 games in 22 days, and it got Powell some much-needed time. He then let the stars close out the third so they could sit the fourth, and they played a combined 55 minutes. Not sure what he could have done about the garbage-time group doing nothing, since it would have been silly to pull key players back in. With one more win, the Raptors secure Casey an All-Star coaching berth.

Things We Saw

  1. You know those really casual runs the Raptors have when they know they’re better than an opponent but don’t have to get flashy about it? After a sloppy 6-6 start to the game, they had one of those over several minutes, going on an 11-0 run that served a reminder of the talent gap here and set a tone for the game. They led by 12 after one, the bench had its usual prolonged stretch where neither side scores much (6-6 over five minutes), and staggered units cruised to a 18-point halftime lead. Atlanta had a 75.8 first-half offensive rating and the Raptors had nine (!) blocks.
  2. This didn’t even feel like that dominant a Raptors performance, but it was. The third quarter was basically the Raptors’ starters slightly extending the lead while almost fully in chill mode, with the stars deferring to the supporting cast on offense and everybody getting their work done on defense. They took a 20-point lead into the fourth and the bench quickly extended it to 30. This one was over with about nine minutes left, except the Raptors have no bad players to put out in garbage time. (Casey was really unhappy with the fourth-quarter focus, though.)
  3. The Raptors gave up 12 offensive rebounds after giving up 32 the last two games, and that’s not a bad number given how many shots Atlanta missed (it’s a 76.9-percent defensive rebound rate). It’s still definitely the area the team most needs to improve in, and there were a couple of the usual instances where nobody has the center’s back when they help on the drive. The team did have 25 assists and hit 14-of-36 (39 percent) on threes.
  4. Think the Raptors’ young players took offense to the team-wide Rising Stars snub? Probably not, honestly, but for the most part, the young guys played really well here. That’s always nice to see. By the way, with the win, the Raptors move within a game of Boston, who play late tonight. By morning, the Raptors could have the best winning percentage in the East again. They’re in good shape.
  5. I know the Hawks are bad, and that it’s a “suburb” city or commuter city or whatever, but this crowd was depressing. At the very least, the Hawks have Sir Foster on the organ and The Starters to try to pick out in the crowd.
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