Green proving far more than just Kawhi came to Raptors from San Antonio in blockbuster trade

Green proving far more than just Kawhi came to Raptors from San Antonio in blockbuster trade
Raptors Showcase Potential in Win over Brooklyn
NEW ORLEANS — Pascal Siakam had 21 points and 11 rebounds and OG Anunoby added 15 points as a shorthanded Toronto Raptors squad wrapped up pre-season play with a 134-119 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday.

CJ Miles had 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting — including 3 of 4 from the three-point line — off the bench for Toronto (4-1). Malachi Richardson had 21 points, Kay Felder had 15 and both Jordan Loyd and Eric Moreland had 12 apiece.

That play honestly looked like something I would do while playing NBA 2K. Only, the other team gets the ball after I fail on the dunk and scores at the other end. I need to brush up on my skills.

Anthony Davis paced the Pelicans (0-5) with 36 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks. Julius Randle also had a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds. Nikola Mirotic, Jrue Holiday and ETwaun Moore were in double-digits at 15, 14 and 12 points, respectively.

I dont remember Leonard and Danny Green ever pulling this off when they played with the San Antonio Spurs, but it is great to see this type of chemistry between the two in just the preseason.

Lowry tossed as Raptors rout Nets in pre-season visit to Montreal

The Raptors took a 67-64 lead into halftime as Siakam banked in a hook shot with 2.4 seconds. Toronto never looked back, streching its advantage to as much as 15 in the fourth quarter.

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Breaking down the Toronto Raptors Depth Chart for 2018-19

New Orleans cut the lead to two at 111-109 with 7:39 left, but Toronto finished the game on a 23-10 run.

"Anybody with eyes could have seen the way that was going, from the first quarter on," said fellow Raptors point guard Fred Van Vleet, who finished with 11 points. "I think he tried to get thrown out earlier. I think Mitch (Ervin) kind of ignored him a little bit and let him fuse himself out."

Torontos Chris Boucher was helped to the locker-room with just more than eight minutes left in the fourth quarter after a collision with Davis as both players jumped for a rebound. Boucher fell and his head appeared to hit the court. He stayed down a couple minutes while he received treatment.

Jonas Valanciunas had a career year last year despite playing a career-low 22.5 MPG. Its clear Dwane Casey wasnt his biggest fan, but thankfully Casey is gone. Valanciunas is a great rebounder and good interior scorer who also shot over 40% from three last year. The three-point shooting may not be real as he only attempted 74 and was left wide open on most of them. Where Valanciunas takes a lot of heat is with his defense. Is Valanciunas a great defender? No. Is he an awful defender like many people believe? Probably not. His pick and roll defense is non-existent at times and hes not a modern rim protector. However, he rarely gets bullied one-on-one. Plus, when Kevin Love was roasting the Raptors in the playoffs last year the Raptors only competent adjustment was putting Jonas Valanciunas on him.

Toronto rested stars Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry as well as regulars Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas, Danny Green and Fred Van Vleet.

Im not sure when Serge Ibakas best before date is, but he started to stink a little bit toward the end of the year and was straight up smelly in the playoffs. Ibaka is no longer a rim protector. Hes an average or slightly below average rebounder for a big man. Hes become a decent perimeter shooter over the last few years, but cannot really guard many players on the perimeter anymore. Kevin Love has beaten Serge Ibaka on dribble drives in the playoffs in consecutive years. If Kevin Love is beating you with his speed theres a problem. Ibaka is definitely overpaid making roughly $45M over these next two seasons, but can he be a serviceable bench player? If he buys in and accepts coming off the bench at this late stage in his career, sure.

The Pelicans, meanwhile, utilized their full squadron, including starters Davis, Holiday, Moore, Mirotic and Elfrid Payton, as well as Randle in reserve.

Montrealer Chris Boucher, who is battling for the final spot on the Toronto roster, received a loud ovation and cries of Bou-cher, Bou-cher when he entered the game with 7:07 to play. He elicited more cheers when he hit two three-pointers in the final 70 seconds of the game. He missed two other shots, blocked a shot, forced a Brooklyn player to take a bad shot and picked up three fouls. Boucher, who played his college basketball at Oregon, also received an ovation when he addressed the crowd in French before the game.

New Raptors Leonard, Green paying early dividends on both ends of the court

Norman Powell, who is dealing with left IT band tenderness, and Delon Wright, who is nursing a strained left thigh muscle, both sat out for Toronto.

The Raptors went to Montreal for the last home game of the preseason on Wednesday night, and the fans showed up to bring a true home court advantage as they took on the Brooklyn Nets. With OG Anunoby rejoining the team this week and being available for the first time this preseason, this was the first look at a fully healthy Raptors team, and the rust showed through, but so did the talent and potential of this team.

Toronto Raptors: Grades from a pull away win against the Brooklyn Nets

The first glimpse at what might be the team’s starting lineup may have come in this game, when Nick Nurse went with a group of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka to open the game, and the group showed flashes of what they could be, but gave up an early lead that they couldn’t quite claw back from as they struggled with early turnovers, Lowry in particular having four in the first frame, and some shotmaking from the young nets. Caris LeVert, DeAngelo Russell and Jarrett Allen led the way the for the visiting team as they jumped out to an 8-point lead after the first quarter, and for the critics of using Ibaka ahead of last year’s starting center Jonas Valanciunas, this quarter showed the merits of going in the other direction. Ibaka doesn’t bring Valanciunas’ presence in the screening game or on the boards, and the offense was sluggish in the halfcourt despite the talent the team fielded.

Towards the end of the first quarter and into the second, Valanciunas came in with the bench lineup, and they found some success, but again, it wasn’t the dominant bench mob of a year ago in the first half, and the Raptors came into halftime with a three-point deficit.

Nets complete preseason with Knicks at the Garden

In the second half, Nurse changed the starting group, opting to go back to Valanciunas, and swap Anunoby for Pascal Siakam, and the players responded immediately with the Raptors reeling off a 27-6 run to take control of the game, keyed by dominant defense and scoring some easy transition buckets. Lowry ended up getting himself ejected during the second half, an ejection you could see coming with his chirping at the referees throughout the game, but the Raptors didn’t skip a beat as Anunoby showed the progress he’s made during the summer defensively, and he and Leonard found some chemistry defensively where they frustrated the Nets while also delivering a highlight reel play together late in the game.

Its exactly the kind of play that makes Leonard one of the best players in the world, even on a night when he barely cracks double-digit points. But Leonard didnt just bring it on the offensive end — the former Defensive Player of the Year added four steals to his stat line, giving Raptors fans a glimpse of the two-way hustle that has defined his game.

For Leonard, his shot never quite came in this one, and it’s been the one thing that hasn’t fully returned from his MVP form of years past, but there were other very positive signs. Not just the defensive effort and he showed his ability to control rebounds as the game progressed, but his playmaking was in full form, finding lanes into the paint and kicking out to shooters for easy looks with regularity. He’s visibly enjoying himself out there with this Raptors team, and the shot should just be rust at this point, and should come as he gets further back into the swing of the NBA season.

“Anybody with eyes could have seen the way that was going, from the first quarter on,” said fellow Raptors point guard Fred Van Vleet, who finished with 11 points. “I think he tried to get thrown out earlier. I think Mitch (Ervin) kind of ignored him a little bit and let him fuse himself out.”

Raptors continue lineup roulette in Montreal pre-season tuneup

To cap the night off, Chris Boucher, who grew up in Montreal, was able to deliver another nice moment for the crowd as he hit a pair of threes in the waning moments. Boucher has had a nice training camp and preseason, and should be a leading contender for the Raptors’ last two-way spot.

“Hes trying to get himself ready and, you know, his fire and his compete,” said first-year Toronto coach Nick Nurse. “Id certainly much rather see him going out there fighting like heck than I would not caring about a pre-season game or sitting another one out.

This was the team that was envisioned at the time of the trade this summer in this second half, an athletic team that could switch on defense and challenge offenses around the court while creating a lot of space offensively through their speed, talent, and shooting across the court. Nick Nurse’s vision appears to be translating in the preseason, because he got the players in rhythm in this game, and with just a week remaining until the regular season, it’ll be interesting to see if he can deliver this team on a nightly basis.

Toronto Temperature: Up and Down for the Raptors

With a Thursday night matchup in New Orleans that won’t be broadcast on TV or radio as the only remaining preseason contest, this was the last look for most of us at this team prior to the opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Delon Wright left the game late with what’s being described as a thigh bruise, which will be something to keep an eye on. For Raptors fans though, the season can’t come soon enough after getting a glimpse of what this year’s team might be in Montreal.