Title: Raptors run into familiar issues, still win in OT, but fortunately have opportunity for quick improvement
Date: March 20, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors blowing a 20-point lead in Oklahoma City, still coming out with a win, and getting to do it all again Friday in a two-game playoff tune-up series.
After Friday, the Raptors’ remaining schedule is fairly weak. While they play a handful of potentially meaningful games against teams fighting to make the playoffs or jockeying for position, there are no opponents left with a net rating above zero. If the Raptors value postseason preparation and dress rehearsals of sorts, two games against the Oklahoma City Thunder offer a final opportunity against deep-playoff calibre opponents.
Wednesday showed that they should still be valuing those reps, even in coming away with a 123-114 overtime victory.
The Raptors played an excellent first half and started the third quarter on fire, opening up a 20-point lead. Whether it was the cliched foot coming off the gas or the Thunder being more desperate after losing three straight or the Raptors just losing some composure as Oklahoma City started pushing, things went off the rails enough that overtime was required. How, exactly? Part of it was Paul George, who was monstrous in the comeback before fouling out late in the fourth. Part of it was Russell Westbrook doing what he does and breaking down an opponent in transition, making their entire defence vulnerable from its centre out. Part of it was Steven Adams going haywire on the offensive glass.