Raptors Recap – The High 5 – TOR 108 @ BOS 117
The High 5 is where I give my reaction to the night’s games. This includes a look at the players who made a difference in the outcome, some additional notes and unique details that caught my attention.
The Thumb (Feel of the Game)
After trading wins earlier this year, the Toronto Raptors battled a hungry Boston Celtics team in an electric TD Garden. This was an important game for the Celtics as they struggle to get back to the top tier of the Eastern conference. Meanwhile, Toronto was looking to send a message and add to their impressive win streak. The energy was in the air; the game had a playoff type atmosphere and the stars were ready to step up.
In the end, Coach Stevens made the right moves and, thanks in large part to Kyrie Irving, earned a hard-fought victory in an exciting game. Boston 117 Toronto 108.
The Index (The Leader)
Serge Ibaka had a great game to continue his recent string of strong play. Tonight, he pulled down 10 rebounds to go with 22 points on 10/21 from the field. Serge has been invaluable to the Raptors as he stabilizes the centre position while Jonas is still on the mend. His midrange game is smooth like warm butter and his rebounding efforts have improved throughout the year. The only thing lacking is a consistent 3-point shot but, right now, it’s hard to complain about anything the big man is doing in the middle.
The Middle (The Enemy)
Al Horford, the forgotten All Star, had a strong performance for the Celtics. He matched Serge’s contributions with an efficient night of his own going for 24 points on 9/12 from the field. He also pulled down 7 boards, nailed 3 shots from beyond the arc and even finished some alley oops. Despite his All-Star resume, Al Horford is still one of the most underrated players in the league.
The Ring (The X Factor)
In a nationally televised game, Kawhi Leonard had another excellent night for Toronto. He is deceptively strong, at times he bullied Al Horford and Marcus Morris around in the paint. Leonard may not have the flashiest game, but he can be counted on to make sound fundamental plays that ensure his team is never out of the contest. Kawhi is playing the best basketball of his career right now. He even had a rare explosion of emotion after an and-1 in crunch time. Leonard finished going for 33 points on 10/19 shooting with 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 steals in a loss.
The Pinky (The Unsung Hero)
I continue to be impressed by Greg Monroe’s professionalism and ability to stay game ready. He looks comfortable in his role with the bench unit and, like other Toronto bigs, has found ways to be incredibly effective in limited playing time. Tonight, in 15 minutes of work, the Moose scored 11 points on 4/6 from the field while grabbing 9 rebounds.
Player of the Game
Kyrie Irving is a magician with the ball. I contend that he has the best handles in the league. His ability to drive to the basket and serve it up with one hand, drain a deep three or hit the mid range baseline jumper is just mesmerizing. After a few games of having his leadership questioned and seeing his team fall to 5th in the conference, Kyrie responded with an incredible showcase of point guard skill and play-making. Irving played with an edge all night, he was determined to get a win and would not be denied. He was spectacular scoring 27 points on 11/19 shooting while dishing out 18 assists to lead Boston in an All World performance.
- Trouble at the point – Kyle seemed to lose energy as the game wore on and both Delon Wright (0/3) and Fred VanVleet (0/3) contributed very little.
- Missing the 3 – The Raptors were cold again from deep only hitting 7 of 29 shots. This is something to keep an eye on as the playoffs near.
- Too High – The Raptor player introductions were accompanied by the beats of one of my favourite rappers; Lil’ Dicky.
- The Future is now – Jason Tatum debuted the new Nike Adapt self tying shoes. I have been dreaming of this day since I first saw Back to the Future part 2.
This was a tough loss against a team that Toronto will most likely meet sometime in the playoffs. The Raptors look to get back in the win column as they play again on Thursday against the Phoenix Suns.