He remains dynamic when he touches the ball inside the arc. Great lookaway dime for Achiuwa on his first. Chaos Cousins are still awesome. He helps in many ways: the post, the offensive glass. Great cut, too, to keep movement and action in Toronto’s offense. His defense had some flaws, whether it was dropping hits on the perimeter or balls defending the blocker on the pick and roll. But that was little; overall it was fantastic.
Immediate aggression on his first touch, going deeper than virtually all of the night before. A beautiful twist. He really shared the load with Barnes and especially Achiuwa, and forced a shot or two here or there, but mostly great stuff. The guys still don’t wow them much, and the build was lower than you might expect, but this is on the low end of an average Siakam game. It’s crazy how far he’s grown.
The best player in the game, on any team. He just injects a level of athleticism that no one else on the team has. He is only slightly less fluid than Siakam and only slightly less strong than Anunoby. (He is fine, maybe so strong). He affects the game in many ways. His diving, his arrivals, his rebounding: his athleticism allows him to do unique things. Defensively, he can turn the whole mess around for him with his mobility and rim protection.
I wrote the article before this season, but this game was the perfect microcosm of how Gary is doing for the team. When the ball rings and the context is favorable, he is a killer. He is such a phenomenal shooter in catch-and-shoot open sights. But then, in the third quarter, when Toronto’s offense stalled, Trent’s own scoring came to a halt. He had a lob in transition for a dunk from Precious, which was surprising and a lot of fun.
Big Lowry game: slow play three quarters and dominate the fourth. He didn’t try to make much of this game, but his (few) points came in big moments, to say the least. Midway through the third, as the Blazers staged a small comeback, he hit a hard 3-pointer to end the streak. Then another pull-up triples as a 2-for-1 pump to really finish off the third. A great layup midway through the quarter and a setback on his own shot moments later! It all came with Toronto’s offense in the swamp; otherwise, he relied on his passes, cuts, and screens. He took charge in the room in many ways.
He gave enough on the offensive end. He hit a 3-pointer, had a good rush play for a layup early in the fourth. VanVleet dunk cut. He certainly made his mistakes, but he gave something off the bench, at least. Defensively, he was better late than early, which is good.
He doesn’t have the defensive foot speed the Raptors need from him. Drivers can turn the corner quite easily when he tries to stay in front. His left hook on the post is still money though.
He was perhaps the most reliable defensive player off the bench, which was a low bar to clear, but even then he gave nothing offensively. In truth, he gave nothing.
His defense was less solid and positional than what the Raptors expected of him. Yes, he hit a 3-pointer, but the defense has to be at a minimum for him to deserve his spot in the rotation right now. I wasn’t there the whole time tonight.
Malachi-Juancho-Thad-Boucher is not a quartet that is going to earn its minutes very often, and that is not Nurse putting his bench in a position to succeed. On the other hand, Toronto was so far up that it didn’t matter at all about the result and mostly just allowed the starters to rest a little longer. Mostly an easy game for Toronto, so there’s not much to judge Nurse on.
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