Raptors sloppy in final tune-up game

Harley Kock
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Toronto Raptors 117-106 Phoenix Suns

Sloppy, sloppy and more sloppy.


The Raptors committed 26 turnovers and were uncharacteristically lazy on defense. Hopefully just a sign of the game and not fatigue going forward.


It was the jumbo line-up once again to start with Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol.


VanVleet played 23 minutes and looked mostly unbothered by the knee injury that sidelined him for most of Sunday’s scrimmage. A bad offensive foul and some struggling to get free for open looks, but a great sign that he was back so quick.


Gasol doubled his playing time from last game with 19:55 in this final tune-up, tallying five points, nine boards and a pair of blocked shots. He was hunting his offence and made a great argument for having a bigger scoring role.


Overall the jumbo lineup will be used going forward in spot minutes. The smaller Suns made a point of spacing them out and forcing the Raptor Bigs to chase for easy open shots after some quick side-to-side swings.


Toronto trailed 35-29 after one quarter. A Lowry three-pointer capped a 7-0 Raptors run and pulled Toronto to within four points late in the half. The Suns took a 66-60 advantage into the break.


Terence Davis and Chris Boucher in particular had rough games, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did have a tough and-one finish, he was largely invisible despite his role as a hustle player. For Davis, it was the lapses in judgement as a ball handler resulting in turnovers and easy transition layups. For Boucher, it was the inability to hold position against Frank Kaminsky in the post leading to foul trouble, then poor reads on both offense and defense in his second shift.


It’s tough to see the second unit that had some fantastic minutes in both opening scrimmages play so poorly. Head Coach Nick Nurse will need to be careful with his rotations when things kick off for real. We saw no Patrick McCaw once again, leading to more questions about his health.


The Raptors did fall 117-106 to the team in the bubble with the worst record coming in, but that wasn’t the most awkward thing about the game. 


Projected logos overlapped players, virtual fans just looked plain bad and instead of the desired effect of making it feel normal, it was just distracting.


Basketball fans love basketball.


Don’t distract from that NBA.


Another impressive game for OG Anunoby, who knocked down a couple 3s and played typically great D in 5 minutes. More encouraging off-the-dribble work as well opening up quality scoring opportunities for his teammates.


So through three games the Raptors are who they were when we left them. Despite tonight, (that was the result of a lot of experimenting) they are a top defensive team in the league that remains extremely versatile. The offence will rely on an attack by committee. Siakam is still learning his role as a number one option and there will be growing pains, but the defence is good enough to realistically repeat.


Next up, The first of the final eight regular season games on Saturday against the L.A. Lakers.