The Toronto Raptors‘ climb up the Jap Convention standings has been aided significantly by them enjoying groups they’re going to be competing with for playoff seeding because the season strikes into its last third.
They’ve been capable of care for enterprise in their very own yard.
On Monday evening the Raptors kicked off a three-game highway journey and a stretch of eight highway video games in 9 video games with a go to to Charlotte, a crew began the evening a game-and-a-half behind the sixth-place Raptors and in ninth place.
The assembly with the Hornets bookended an eight-game stretch in opposition to 4 Jap Convention opponents that they performed twice every.
The Raptors took full benefit and got here into Charlotte in search of their seventh win in eight video games and acquired it as they held the potent Hornets to 12.6 factors beneath their season scoring common in a 116-101 win.
The win prolonged Toronto’s profitable streak to 6 video games – their second six-game streak since Dec. thirty first – and firmed up their maintain on sixth place.
It was one other sensible outing from Pascal Siakam, who missed out on being named to the Jap Convention All-Star sport by the coaches final Thursday after which took one other snub earlier than the sport Monday when Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball was named by the NBA workplace as an damage alternative for the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant.
It was defensible solely in that the Hornets most likely deserved not less than one consultant within the in-season showcase, having been within the playoff/play-in combine all season, however Siakam is enjoying higher basketball than Ball proper now as a result of he’s enjoying higher than nearly anybody.
He’s become a 6-foot-9 level guard who can assault mismatches within the paint just like the power-forward he was once. He offers VanVleet a break off the ball after they play collectively, and he can lead the second unit when VanVleet sits.
Halfway by way of the fourth quarter Siakam pressured his method into the paint and bounced a go out to VanVleet, who knocked down the simple spot-up three. It pushed the Raptors’ result in 12 and marked the third time Siakam had discovered VanVleet for a triple.
It made for a comparatively simple evening’s work for VanVleet, who added 20 factors and 5 assists and shot 6-of-11 from deep, whereas Gary Trent Jr. added 24 factors and shot 4-of-11 from deep because the Raptors shot 15-of-35 from past the arc — a significant differentiator as Charlotte simply 9-of-39 from deep.
All 5 Raptors starters ended up in double figures as OG Anunoby sealed the win with a 3 and a pair of dunks within the last moments on his method to 20 factors and 9 rebounds, whereas Scottie Barnes added 15 factors and eight rebounds.
However main the best way was Siakam because the reigning Jap Convention player-of-the-week completed with 24 factors, 11 rebounds and eight assists, out-playing Ball who had 17 factors and 9 assists, but additionally seven turnovers.
Pascal the purpose guard may very well be a factor.
“You see there are even occasions when Fred is on the market now, and we’ve acquired him off the ball and Pascal is bringing it up, “stated Raptors head coach Nick Nurse earlier than the sport. “There’s actually extra floor space to scratch, and it’s largely aligning units in another way and with the ability to run related units with the items moved. So, you possibly can nearly run the identical play one time for Gary and one time for Fred. That’s form of the place we are able to do some extra issues, I feel. We’ll see the place it goes.”
“[But] I feel the largest factor is it doesn’t seem like he’s confused. He seems to be assured,” stated Nurse. “He’s gonna run the play and ensure everybody’s organized and get it began. There’s no hesitancy. There’s plenty of confidence there. And that’s actually vital in that function.”
The Raptors’ profitable methods are well-timed. The NBA commerce deadline is on Thursday, however relatively than have distractions spoil the Raptors vibe, it’s nearly the opposite method round. As a result of a lot of the Raptors commerce situations contain Goran Dragic – who hasn’t been with the crew since November – and a future draft asset, the crew doesn’t have to fret in regards to the locker room being upended. It must be addition with out significant subtraction.
“I don’t sense a ton of buzz or plenty of chatter from the crew or our gamers or something,” stated Nurse. I feel we’re simply attempting to get these guys right here to focus in, and I feel they’re doing a very good job of it proper now.”
By no means higher throughout the opening moments in opposition to the Hornets. It may have been that the Raptors lastly had the good thing about two full days relaxation after enjoying 5 video games in seven days, together with 4 time beyond regulation intervals, or it may very well be that Toronto is just a justifiably assured group, after their 5-0 week, however Charlotte was in hassle early.
The Raptors got here out bombing. They knocked down 5 threes within the opening quarter on 9 makes an attempt with three completely different shooters assisted by 4 completely different passers. That mixed with the sticky-fingers defence that has change into a part of the Raptors id – they pressured Charlotte into six turnovers that translated into 12 Raptors factors and a 9-2 edge in fastbreak factors as they jumped out to a 35-21 first-quarter lead.
The Raptors prolonged it from there with assist from their still-under-construction second unit. With VanVleet on the bench Nurse has been rolling out a five-man lineup that includes Dalano Banton and Siakam sharing level guard duties with OG Anunoby, Chris Boucher and Scottie Barnes as an energetic backline that may swap any form of assault the Hornets needed to attempt.
The Raptors began the second quarter on a 9-2 run to push their result in 22, peaking with a Boucher steal on the sideline that he took the opposite method for the slam.
The Hornets have been capable of chip away on the Raptors lead from there, although Toronto loved a 56-41 lead into the half-time break.
The Hornets pushed again, predictably, and the NBA’s second-most potent offence sprinted out to a 9-1 to begin the third quarter. However the Raptors acquired a steal and a dunk from Trent Jr. out of a timeout, and a flurry of our triples pushed Toronto’s lead again to 14.
However Charlotte is preventing for playoff seeding too and wasn’t about to let the Raptors beat them for the second straight sport. They turned up their defensive stress, have been rewarded with 4 Raptors turnovers and have been capable of reduce Toronto’s result in 5 to begin the fourth quarter trailing 80-75.
Toronto was capable of handle its enterprise down the stretch and may very well be in good place to increase their win streak additional because the crew heads to Oklahoma Metropolis after which Houston – groups on the backside of the Western Convention enjoying for lottery balls greater than victories.