Title: Raptor Recalibration, Game 1: Siakam as ‘The Guy,’ key stats, adjustments, more!
Date: August 18, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, I reintroduced a new playoff day-after column where I’ll look at key plays, statistical trends, matchups and more from the Raptors’ playoff run. The first looks at a Game 1 victory over the Nets.
For all the progress the Toronto Raptors have made in recent years, it still feels dishonest when someone suggests there are no Game 1 nerves. The Raptors’ history in Game 1s is well established. And while it doesn’t make much sense for the current roster to carry the burdens of teams from two, five, or 20 years ago… it’s the Game 1 Raptors. You have to have a sense of humour about it.
Besides, it always lurks. For a stretch of Monday’s 134-110 victory against the Brooklyn Nets, it looked like the Raptors weren’t just erasing the Game 1 narrative, they were punting it into oblivion. They got up by 33 early, reaching a 99.9-percent win probability late in the second quarter, per InPredictable.
The game was never really in doubt. But because history is what it is and the detachment between logic and emotion is what it is, it felt all too familiar when the Nets cut that lead to eight late in the third quarter. In reality, the Raptors still had an estimated 91.9-percent chance to win based on historical precedent. All the scrappiness in the world can’t make up for a 30-point deficit unless you happen to have a Kyle Lowry-and-bench unit against the Dallas Mavericks.
Still, Brooklyn fighting back is important. The Raptors picked them apart early and a young, smart, hungry team adjusted well and changed the tone of the game. It wasn’t threatening, but it was informative.
“It felt like a playoff game, just the intensity. Those guys, the Nets, they play extremely hard,” Lowry said. “That was a battle. They had a hell of a run. We know this is only one game. We understand that. It’s a long series. It’s only one game. Adjustments will be made. We have to continue to play hard and watch film, and get better.”
Thank you, Kyle. What a great way to reintroduce Raptor Recalibration.
As established last postseason, the morning after each playoff game, we’ll reconvene here to try to sort through all of it. We’ll look at key plays, key statistical trends, the major between-games adjustments, coaching decisions, and whatever else strikes me as noteworthy.