Title:Raptors survive emotional exhaustion, find mood-stabilizing win in Atlanta
Date: February 7, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about an emotionally exhausted Raptors team pulling out a shorthanded win after a dramatic trade deadline.
ATLANTA — To hear Norman Powell tell it, he had won. Up against Delon Wright in a game of FIFA at the team’s hotel, Powell says “of course” he had. Business as usual. The minutes that followed were anything but. Powell hadn’t had time to start his pre-game nap when his phone buzzed. Wright, one of his closest friends on the team, could be on the move.
Just that morning, after Wright grabbed breakfast with OG Anunoby, things seemed more or less normal. Or as normal as they can get at the NBA trade deadline. The Raptors had uncharacteristically been the focus of some spicy rumours and a Malachi Richardson salary dump suggested something else was coming, but the focus remained on the 14 bodies on hand. One, in particular, drew heavy focus: Jonas Valanciunas, who was expected to return against the Atlanta Hawks after two months on the shelf.
Each hour on deadline day is a veritable lifetime, though. The Milwaukee Bucks followed the Philadelphia 76ers’ lead by adding a piece to make them look even more dangerous, pieces flew around the league over one of the busiest 48-hour stretches in deadline history and by the time most Raptors would normally be settling into their pre-game routines, Valanciunas was no longer returning that night, Wright was no longer Powell’s most regular FIFA competition and C.J. Miles was no longer the team’s steady veteran character guy. All three, along with a pick, are headed to Memphis in a blockbuster deal for Marc Gasol.