The High 5 – Week in Review – Week 13
The High 5 is where I review the last week of Toronto Raptors basketball including how the team did, who were the impact players as well as some news and notes from around the league.
The Thumb – How was the week?
Toronto was feeling optimistic now that they had bodies back in the line up. You could literally see the relief on Kyle’s face knowing that he no longer had to be the everyman. Fred was forthcoming about the details of his absence from the team. He did a great job addressing some of the stigmas attached to COVID-19 while reminding us that as much as we put these players on pedestals, they are still regular people.
Unfortunately, even with a full roster, the Raps struggled to get on the same page. Former Coach Dwane Casey picked up another win against them and the Jazz narrowly survived a back-to-back. But most disappointingly was the egg the Raps laid against the Cavs. They missed out on a very gettable game and closed the week without a win.
It will be interesting to see how this team addresses their concerns with the trade deadline just around the corner.
Week Record (0 – 3) Season Record (17 – 25)
Toronto Raptors v Detroit Pistons – L 116 – 112
Toronto owed Detroit after being embarrassed by them a few weeks ago. With Pascal and Fred back, they were confident again. They carried an air of bravado, but the Pistons humbled them quick. Detroit played old school basketball that took Toronto out of their game plan. Powell, the lone bright spot, continued his torrential offense while others struggled, to put it gently. Lowry, VanVleet and Siakam combined for a dismal 5/37. Powell missed crucial free throws, but he had already done more than enough. He was a machine gun while the rest were shooting blanks.
Utah Jazz v Toronto Raptors – L – 115 –112
The Raptors were finally at full strength and what was their reward? A matchup against the leagues best. Toronto wore their black and gold jerseys; the Jazz donned their vibrant green ‘Earned’ ones. The Raps played with pride on the defensive end, as seen through their switches, rotations and scrambles. They were small compared to the Jazz, but their speed flustered the redwood, Rudy Gobert. They played closer to their potential and traded punches with the league’s elite. Toronto once again had the lead late, but they couldn’t close out. 7 straight losses. Just breathe.
Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers – L 116 – 105
Toronto took on the Cavs in ‘the Land’ on Sunday night. Cleveland is littered with young athletic guards. It’s hard not to cheer for their fast, hyper-active brand of basketball. With frustrations boiling over, Toronto was desperate for a win. The Cavs benefited from good shooting and long dry spells from the Raptors. Powell was once again, cash, and Lowry showed, “I’m not losing” intensity. However, these Cavaliers are deceptively dangerous, they took what was given and never forced anything. Cleveland played good team basketball and deserved the win. Toronto needs to do some soul searching.
The Index – The Leader – Player of the Week
Everyone keeps waiting for Norm to come back to Earth, but he has been living among the stars for weeks. His play has not tapered off in the slightest, if anything, his role on offense has only grown as his number gets called upon time and time again. He set a new career high in points (43) against Detroit, and he continues to drop triples like waterfalls.
Honourable Mention: P. Siakam, K. Lowry
The Middle – The Enemy – Best Opposing Player
Saddiq Bey – Detroit Pistons
Saddiq gets the nod this week after an inspirational performance in the Motor City. If you are asking yourself, ‘who?’ don’t worry you are not alone. The Piston rookie has recently exploded onto the scene with a couple of head turning performances. When no one was expecting it, he clowned Toronto to earn a huge double-double with the win.
Honourable Mention: R. Gobert (UTA), D. Mitchell (UTA), C. Sexton (CLE)
The Ring – The X Factor – Standout Performance
Pascal Siakam v Utah Jazz
Siakam made his long-awaited return to the High 5 with a standout performance against the Jazz. He had an all-around good night and came within inches of a game tying triple. What was most impressive was his assists. I have long waited for an improvement to his playmaking ability, and this was a step in the right direction. He could probably also use a bit of luck.
Honourable Mention: C. Boucher v DET, K. Lowry v DET,
The Pinky – The Unsung Hero – Key Contributor
It’s incredible how immediately better the Raptors defense looks with Anunoby in the lineup. Granted, they still have more work to do, but his presence alone is good for a handful of steals, deflections and defensive stops. OG is showing a bit of offensive growth as well with moments of assertiveness. In two games he had 32 points, 7 steals and 2 blocks.
Honourable Mention: C. Boucher, P. Siakam
News and Notes
- Mask Off – After throwing his mask off in disgust when his team lost against Utah, Coach Nurse was assessed a $50000 fine.
- Sign ‘em while he’s hot – ‘And-1’ shoe company inked Norm Powell to an endorsement deal. He joins teammate Fred VanVleet and former guard Rafer ‘Skip to my Lou’ Alston as the other Raptors signed to this brand.
Around the League
- Career ending? – After serving a week suspension with the Miami Heat as a result of inappropriate and hateful language, Meyers Leonard was traded to the OKC Thunder. It looks like the Thunder have no intention in keeping Leonard either as he is not expected to join the team.
- Fallen Giant – Prayers up for former center Shawn Bradley. It recently came to light that a biking accident left the 7’6 Bradley paralyzed. He has received a lot of support from the league and intends to raise awareness on bicycle safety when he is able.
- That’s what I like – After years of loyalty, LeBron James has left Coca Cola to become the poster boy of Pepsi Cola on a multi year partnership. Expect to see his face on Mountain Dew bottles in the near future.
- Building an Empire – LeBron’s legacy took a major leap forward when he announced that he has joined a partnership group to become a part owner of the Boston Red Sox. This adds to already owning part of Liverpool FC. James also announced his intentions to own a basketball franchise in the near future.
- NBA Godfather – Adrien Brody has been casted to play the legendary Pat Riley in a new HBO series about the ‘Showtime’ Lakers. Brody may have the build, the hair and the acting chops but there are few as cool as Riley.
The Raptors are back in action on Monday night against the reeling Rockets in Houston. On Wednesday, they host Canadian Jamal Murray, MVP candidate Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. On Friday, they will take on the new and drastically improved Phoenix Suns. Finally, they close their week with a Sunday night contest against the Portland Trailblazers.