Title: Jonas Valanciunas leads resurgent Raptors bench in turn of tides against 76ers
Date: December 5, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Jonas Valanciunas’ big night for a resurgent bench unit against the 76ers.
Jonas Valanciunas managed to play all of three-and-a-half minutes before picking up three fouls on Wednesday.
The early foul trouble necessitated head coach Nick Nurse reach deeper into his bench, calling on Greg Monroe. Monroe provided a spirited burst, with a couple of key offensive plays, big rebounds and, somewhat humorously, a coast-to-coast trek for an and-one. Monroe is a quality player and a luxury in his third centre role. To hang with the Philadelphia 76ers, though, the Raptors need a more actualized version of Valanciunas than the one that quickly racked up personals.
Underneath the fouls was a harbinger of things to come. Valanciunas shot 3-for-3 in his quick stint, pouring in eight points with an assist in a hurry. Joel Embiid is not a perfect matchup for Valanciunas, and Mike Muscala off the bench makes the 76ers a bit of a challenge. At the same time, Valanciunas can be immensely physical, has found mostly a decent groove providing vertical rim protection within the team’s defensive system of late and had turned in a strong performance against this same opponent — without Jimmy Butler — just a few weeks prior. It was certainly worth going back to him and treating it as if the foul trouble hadn’t happened in the second half.