The 82 game regular season has come to an end and the Toronto Raptors played out their final game, taking a 103-96 win against the Brooklyn Nets.
The win puts the Raptors at 56-26, 30 games over .500 and by far the best record in franchise history. There was very little to fight for tonight as Toronto had already wrapped up the number 2 seed in the Eastern conference while their opponents and division rivals the Brooklyn Nets had already long been confirmed as out of contention – they end the season with a 21-61 record which sees them finish second last in the conference ahead of only Philadelphia. The Raptors won the season series in a 4-0 sweep.
The game itself saw the Raptors rest all of their usual starters while the likes of Patrick Patterson, Bismack Biyombo and Corey Joseph playing limited minutes. The Nets took an early lead which was as high as 17 at one point and were up by 10 at the end of the first. Toronto however turned the ship around in the second and went on to outscore Brooklyn 33-21 in the quarter which was good for a 49-47 half time lead. Another strong quarter in the third gave the Raptors a 12 point lead before the final act where the team managed to hold on for a 103-96 victory. Norman Powell was phenomenal once again as he put up 30 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. The second strength Raptors side found scorers from multiple sources though, as Terrence Ross finished with 24 points on 9-21 from the field and 10 rebounds. Delon Wright scored 18 while Jason Thompson also chipped in 12. Lucas Nogueira played centre and managed 10 rebounds as well as 3 assists and 6 points. Brooklyn rested the likes of Brook Lopez as Bogdonavic led the way with 29.
Dwane Casey was clearly coaching this game with one if not both eyes on the impending playoff series against Indiana – the schedule is set to be released later tonight or early tomorrow Toronto time.
Often there can be little to take from a game like this where neither team has anything to fight for and both are just playing it out. It does give teams a chance to play younger or less used players and tonight the Raptors did just that. Brazilians Nogueira and Cabaclo who both spent time in the 905 this season saw good developmental minutes while the rarely used Thompson and Wright also gained experience.
The young team took a while to get going but managed a very respectable 103 points. Norman Powell was the clear highlight but it was good to see everyone get in on the scoring. No player that entered the game went scoreless and all except Thompson finished with a positive +/- rating. 3 point shooting was down at 35% overall and as a team they only managed 53% from the line – of course not too much should be read into this.
It would of been more interesting to see how the young almost 905 side handled the likes of a Jarrett Jack or Brook Lopez however it wasn’t to be. In the end the best the Raptors had to deal with was Bogdanovic – aside from his 29 no Brooklyn player managed more than 12 points. The Nets were held to 43% from the field and were unable to get any much of a lift after a strong start to the first quarter. The Raptors did a reasonably good job of protecting the rim although at times as often this season Brooklyn was their own worst enemy. How the organization managed to sell 16,500 tickets to tonight’s game is quite remarkable.
The Raptors got a clear W on this one. The team managed to out rebound Brooklyn 57-39. None of the Nets players managed double figure rebounds and the Raptors only gave up 5 offensive rebounds. If tonight was a look into the future than this tall and athletic Raptors side showed that rebounding is their strong point. Four Raptors players finished ahead of the Nets leader in rebounds (Centre Henry Sims) as Powell, Nogueira, Thompson and Ross all managed at least 8.
Game Ball: Norman Powell
The rookie’s impact this season was again on full display – his career high 30 points led the Raptors comeback and got the job done. While he wasn’t up against Brooklyn’s best team tonight Raptors fans will be hoping there is more of his current form to come both in the playoffs and subsequent seasons. The final day of regular season belonged to the rarely used and the upcoming – they made sure the season finished with a nice win over an old enemy.