When you boil it all down, there are only two ways to win a basketball game: score more points than your opponent, or allow your opponent to score fewer points than yourself. With the former being an offensive-minded approach, and the latter taking the defensive perspective, Nick Nurse has made it clear to his squad that he wants the Toronto Raptors to build their defense first.
And that, they have. Through the first seven games of the regular season – in which the Raptors accumulated only one win – they boasted a top-five defense in the NBA, despite allowing a rather unhealthy 112 points per game. At the same time however, their offense ranked bottom-five in the NBA, until Friday night.
The Raptors rolled into Sacramento for the second game of their week-long Western Conference Road trip, and were planning to roll out a lineup devoid of Kyle Lowry. Missing the centerpiece of their struggling offense, fans on both sides were already chalking this one up as a win for the Kings. The Raptors had no big men who could compete with Richaun Holmes on the glass, and without Lowry, the defense in the backcourt was taking a step back.
The scoreboard midway through the first quarter reflected exactly what everybody expected. The Kings were shooting a perfect 10/10 from the field, and led the game by 14 points just five minutes into the game. The Raptors looked like they were about to roll over, and accept their seventh loss of the season before the game had really gotten underway.
But then came a crucial timeout that the Raptors needed, serendipitously as a gift from the Kings. With four minutes left in the first quarter, Luke Walton called for a stoppage in play as his team led by 16. From there, the Raptors would spark an inspiring run led by Fred VanVleet and Chris Boucher to pull themselves within eight at the end of the quarter.
That same momentum would remain within the Raptors’ palms for the remainder of the game. Everyone was getting involved in the action. Malachi Flynn scored his first NBA buckets, Terence Davis recorded a season-high 18 points, and Pascal Siakam nearly notched the first triple-double of his career.
In the second quarter the Raptors outscored the Kings by 5. In the third, by 11, and in the fourth, by 13. What was even more impressive was the points that they put up in doing so. Toronto ended the contest with 144 points, including 20 three-pointers made. Six players scored in double figures, and three guys scored twenty-plus. It was an all-around offensive masterclass with shots falling from all three levels of the court, from a team that one would least expect it from.
As the Raptors head into San Francisco tonight to square off against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, we’ll see if they can recreate some of their magic from Friday night, this time with Lowry set to return to the lineup. According to online casino in Canada for real money, the Raptors are favoured to win by a couple of points.