Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)
This was quite the eventful weekend for the Raptors. It started with a very intense game at TD Garden against the Boston Celtics, and also featured a game in Chicago Saturday night where the Raptors had a very depleted team. In this article, I’ll break down what happened, and also provide some takeaways from the games.
Way back in the second game of the season, the Raptors beat the Celtics on home court in what was a statement win. The Celtics got their shot at revenge Friday, but it was on their home court this time. The game was pretty back-and-forth through regulation, with Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving carrying their respective teams. Regulation ended with Kawhi missing a shot that would’ve won the game for the Raptors. Then, in overtime, the Celtics pulled away with their entire team pretty much not missing.
This was a very frustrating loss because the Raptors had the win right there in front of them. But looking back now, I see less cause for concern. First of all, OG Anunoby missed the entire second half after he was injured while going up for a layup. That came after the Raptors were already missing Norman Powell and C.J. Miles. Also, with a few minutes left in the game, Danny Green fouled out. Both his 5th and 6th fouls came on pretty soft calls, and they ended up affecting the Raptors in a very negative way. Not only is Green their best 3-point shooter, but he’s also one of the best defenders on the team, and he could’ve guarded Kyrie or Hayward late in the game.
Green’s absence was definitely felt, but then things got even worse for the Raptors when Pascal Siakam also fouled out late into overtime. Now, I don’t like blaming games on officials, but what happened there was a bit sketchy and it pretty much gave the Raptors no chance to succeed late in overtime.
This was still a heartbreaking loss, but when you take into account that by the end of the game the Raptors were missing OG, Powell, Miles, Green, and Siakam, it’s easy to see how this one got away. On a positive note though, Kawhi was incredible in this game. I know he missed the potential game-winner, but he also put up 31 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, while also getting 3 steals. The narrative that he’s not clutch shouldn’t even be brought up, because he hit numerous clutch shots down the stretch that kept the Raptors ahead.
As for Saturday night, the Raptors had to play a Bulls team that isn’t very good. But with Kawhi, OG, Miles and Powell all out, the Raps had very little wing depth in this one. Despite that, they came out and dominated the Bulls, beating them 122-83. Fred VanVleet bounced back with 18 points in this one after getting shutout in Boston, and Danny Green went a perfect 7/7 from the field, including 3 3-pointers.
Looking ahead, the Raptors have another back-to-back this week, against the Magic and Hawks. I assume Kawhi will rest in one of these games, but despite that I think the Raptors should easily win both of those games before coming home to play the Wizards on Friday night.
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