The Toronto Raptors responded to a losing week with a perfect one
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Monday, March 9, 2020
From 0-3 to 3-0
Kyle Lowry was definitely back to form this week. 28, 26 then 30 points in this week's wins. 50 percent shooting from the floor after struggling last week. As we know with Lowry it wasn’t just scoring. He was right above his average with 8 assists per night, grabbing 5 rebounds to go with 2 steals. The Raptors needed him to be better and he delivered.
Serge Ibaka returned to the floor with a vengeance. He missed the win against Phoenix, but had back-to-back double doubles in his return to the lineup. He is scoring on excellent efficiency and it makes Nick Nurse’s job harder, but in a good way with Marc Gasol now back. The 35-year-old returned in the final game and was quiet in 16 minutes of the bench. With how well Ibaka has been playing, there is no rush for Gasol to start games.
Pascal Siakam began the week with a bang. After a tough stretch he dropped 33 in Phoenix on a solid 12 of 20 from the floor. He had a harder time in the two most recent contests. Siakam has been having trouble with consistency. Versus the Warriors he had 17 points on 17 shots. The Raptors second Allstar followed that up with a struggle the first three quarters against the Kings. In the fourth though, when Toronto needed him he delivered. He scored 11 of his 23 points in the final 2 1/2 minutes with the game on the line. He still doesn’t always seem comfortable, but is coming along nicely as the number one option.
Fred VanVleet has now missed five straight games. Norman Powell really excelled in his absence. He started with a solid 23 points and backed that up with a career best 37 against the Warriors. He wasn’t done there with 31 against the Kings. His confidence and consistency have been something to watch before and now after his injury. VanVleet most likely gets the starting job back when he returns, but Powell is making his 10 plus million a year contract look like a bargain.
With the win against Golden State, Toronto clinched the playoffs the fastest in franchise history. Toronto still has one game on their road trip left in Utah, but they have already hit another franchise best. For the first time in their history, they have two winning five game road trips in the same season.
The Boston Celtics who were right behind the Raptors dropped two of three this week, moving them three games behind Toronto. The end of the month could get tough though, seven of the ten games are against playoff teams. Even one of those non-playoff teams they have the Detroit Pistons, whom they have beaten three straight but always seem to get injured against. Prayers up as they are just a VanVleet away from having the core rotation all healthy.