Title: Raptors look more familiar, but offence, Pascal Siakam benching leave questions
Date: December 31, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I broke down the Raptors’ first win of the season and the absence of Pascal Siakam that hung over it.
The Toronto Raptors defence was locked in. A change to zone to disrupt the New York Knicks returned dividends, frustrating their opponent and allowing the Raptors to pull away. In what had been a back-and-forth game, the Raptors swiftly erased a seven-point third-quarter deficit. When the fourth came around, they held the Knicks scoreless for more than five minutes to put together a 19-2 run. A 20-point lead established, they turned to the bench to get a rookie, a two-way player and some new faces additional reps.
It was, for a few minutes, a familiar version of the Raptors, a punishing and unforgiving defence that offers no quarter to young, bad or slumping teams. Kyle Lowry was the engine as usual, elevating those around him with will and savvy. Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell offered additional scoring punch, and a pair of bench pieces — in this case Chris Boucher and Alex Len — came through with stabilizing performances. It’s a model you’ve seen plenty over this era. Colour the start of the season differently and you’d be more or less fine with it taking until the fourth to put away the Knicks 100-83 on New Year’s Eve.