The High 5 – Week in Review – Week 15
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?
This season has proven that even though the league is going ‘small’, there is still significant value in a capable big man. Playing without a reliable centre, is like competing with an open wound. It is an area that Raptors management will most certainly need to address.
After a pair of disappointing losses, Toronto finally hit pay dirt against the Warriors. The Raps only won once in March but almost made up for it entirely in just one game when they blew out Golden State by an obscene amount.
It was an ember of positivity, a sliver of hope, but let’s not get excited yet.
It’s just one game, but like any fire, it all starts with a spark.
Week Record (1 – 2) Season Record (19 – 30)
Toronto Raptors v Detroit Pistons – L 118 – 104
The Pistons were looking for the season sweep against a tired Raptors squad on Monday night. They’ve had their way with Toronto all season and jumped on them early. Before the game reached half, they were flirting with a 20-point lead. The Raps had no offensive rhythm, most buckets were a result of individual talent as oppose to a planned sequence. Detroit played with youthful exuberance, the Raptors were lifeless and uninspired. This was bad.
Toronto Raptors v Oklahoma City Thunder – L 113 – 103
The Thunder have collected picks, shut down their superstar vet and leaned into rebuild mode. They also disappointingly sat their Canadian duo, Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort. This sounded like the perfect opponent for a Raptors team starved for a win. Gary Trent Jr. did his Powell impression to ignite Toronto to a lead that they carried into the half. OG was also a force but OKC shared the ball and took over when the Raps went expectedly cold. Toronto could not weather the storm.
Golden State Warriors v Toronto Raptors – W – 130 – 77
Toronto wore their ‘Earned’ jersey, a throwback to the era of the purple dinosaur. Lowry was out but the Warriors were missing Curry and Draymond Green was a last-minute scratch. Trent Jr. has been locked in since the trade and he continued to take full advantage filling the Powell void. Siakam fed off his energy and together they paced Toronto. On the other side, the Warriors had nothing. Toronto washed over Golden State like a tsunami. They managed to build a, *rubs eyes*, 61-point lead. This game was over early. Toronto humiliated the Warriors in a laugher.
The Index – The Leader – Player of the Week
Anunoby has always been a defensive stalwart but this week he took another step forward in assuming a larger role in Toronto’s offense. Just a few more made baskets opened up so many more scoring options for him and his teammates. His 3-point shot is becoming deadlier, especially from the corners. He is quick enough to beat bigs off the dribble and he goes full on bully ball when a smaller defender tries to check him in the post.
Honourable Mention: P. Siakam, F. VanVleet
The Middle – The Enemy – Best Opposing Player
Svi Mykhailiuk – Oklahoma City Thunder
Svi, the ultimate “Who?” player will undoubtedly make his sole appearance on the High 5 after an impactful shooting night on Wednesday. He beat out teammate Moses Brown, another NBA unknown, simply because his shots were timely and momentum swinging. Svi’s time in Detroit did not work out but unfortunately for the Raps, he is making the most of his opportunity in OKC.
Honourable Mention: Detroit Pistons Bench, M. Brown (OKC)
The Ring – The X Factor – Standout Performance
Pascal Siakam v Golden State Warriors
Pascal celebrated his birthday in style against a notable rival. Siakam played with something that has not been seen in a long time, a smile. In 3 quarters of work, he dropped a season high while also stuffing the stat sheet. He was aggressive on his takes and showed further growth to his playmaking skills. His teammates joined in on the party, but make no mistake, Siakam was the man of the night.
Honourable Mention: Trent. Jr v OKC, M. Flynn v GS
The Pinky – The Unsung Hero – Key Contributor
Gary Trent Jr.
Gary is doing his best to erase any bad emotions left behind in the Powell trade. He chipped in against Detroit but showed real poise and potential in a career night against OKC which was then followed by a Norm-esque performance against the Warriors. The early reviews on Trent are positive. He seems to fit in well with what Toronto is doing and plays with a bit of swagger which has spilled over onto his teammates.
Honourable Mention: M. Flynn
News and Notes
- Creating Opportunity – The newly renamed Wayne and Theresa Embry Fellowship will grant a pair of Canadians the opportunity to work with basketball operations for firsthand experience on the professional level.
- Where did that come from? – The Raptors decimated the Warriors en route to their largest margin of victory in franchise history; 53 points!
- Goodbye, Good luck – Norm Powell penned a beautiful tribute to the Raptors organization and the entire country of Canada for The Players Tribune. It’s a touching, emotional read that I encourage everyone to seek out.
Around the League
- Words Still Matter – Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant was hit with a $50000 fine after he went back and forth with actor Michael Rapaport over social media. The language he used was explicit, foul and concerning. It was a bad look but at the very least, he owned up to it and apologized.
- It’s a bird! It’s a plane! – On their way to Memphis the plane carrying the Utah Jazz collided with a flock of birds causing an emergency landing. Thankfully everyone is safe, the after images and stories paint a frightening picture.
- Ascension – Congrats to former player Grant Hill who will take over director duties of USA basketball from Jerry Colangelo. His term will begin after the Tokyo Olympics.
- Toon In – The trailer for Space Jam 2 dropped and it honestly looks like fun. Time will only tell if they can recreate the magic of the first, but this could be good!
It’s back to a 4-game week for Toronto beginning Monday night against the Wizards. This could be a momentum builder but beware the trap game. Westbrook has been putting up godly numbers and he could detonate at any moment. From there, Toronto will host the injured Lakers on Tuesday. On Thursday, the new look Bulls come to town. Finally, Toronto will travel to Cleveland to take on the Cavs on Saturday night.