Five quick thoughts on a Toronto Raptors victory over the Chicago Bulls that was much closer than it had any right to be…
The starters might have played their best game of the season
Every starter except Norman Powell shot better than 50%, every starter hit a three, and every starter except Norm had at least four rebounds. OK, it was another tough night for Norm. But overall the starters played a complete first quarter, a complete third quarter, and held the fort in fourth when things looked dicey…
This time, it was the bench that (almost) squandered things
On Sunday, the bench brought the Raptors back against the Wizards, and the starters blew it, giving up a late 12-2 run. On Tuesday, the starters began subbing out up 18 in the third; the Bulls slowly started catching up, 17, then 15, then finally Bobby Portis went on a mini-run and it was 108-98, and Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas and Norman Powell came back in. The momentum had clearly swung and it got as close as 3 in the final minute before the Raps closed it out.
Three-pointers were the difference—in the Raptors favor, for once
The Raptors had their best shooting night from distance, going 13-25 from behind the arc. That’s still not enough volume on threes—they need to be shooting at least 30 a night to make their offense really sing. But getting CJ Miles 6 shots is a good thing. Lowry’s 1-4 remains disconcerting, though he did finish 7-13 overall (and, you know, didn’t get ejected). And I’m still not willing to get too excited by DeMar DeRozan’s 2-2 night.
The passing still isn’t where it should be
The Raptors assisted on 22 of 44 made field goals, which is not terrible but again, not where they need to be to succeed as a ball-movement oriented offense.
The rotation is still too deep
I know it’s only 10 games and there’s still lots of time to figure it out. But I’m surprised Dwane Casey’s still playing 12 guys. I know it’s not an easy call, but, that’s why he’s the coach! I think he needs to shorten the rotation to 10, maybe 9. To me, the first two choices have to be Fred VanVleet (fine last night, after his great performance the other night) and Lucas Noguiera (invisible in 10 minutes last night). The third choice is the most difficult; it should be one of Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby, and they’ve been very, very similar so far this year. I do think Anunoby might’ve the slightly higher upside, though, so I might give him a 10-game run.
The Raps have one game left in this mini-home stand before going back out on the road for three. Here’s hoping they close it out with a win against the Pelicans on Thursday!