Title: Raptors 905 Report: Gary Payton II, veterans outshining assignees
Date: February 13, 2021
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I broke down Raptors 905 through three games in the G League Bubble, including their meeting with the Ignite prospect team.
Before Raptors 905 tipped off with the G League Ignite on Saturday, 905 coach Patrick Mutombo said he believed the game would be a window into his team’s level of toughness. It was their first back-to-back of the mini-season and third game in four days, which will be the norm in the expedited bubble environment. Those conditions can “build cushion for failure,” in Mutombo’s estimation, one there’s little room for in a win-while-developing 905 environment.
Well, they don’t come much tougher than Gary Payton II, and Mutombo’s prediction that toughness would reveal itself was prescient.
Payton was a game changer on the defensive end as the 905 nearly fought back from a double-digit third-quarter hole against the league’s experimental prospect-and-vet squad, completely shifting the tone of the comeback attempt. Instead of firing away from 3 as the misses piled up — the 905 were a woeful 7-of-44 shooting on 3s in the game — Payton’s energy mandated pressure and pace at every turn. Along with Breein Tyree and Malachi Flynn, Mutombo utilized a three-guard set for long stretches in the second half. While offence was still at a premium, the defence did its job. The Ignite scored just 14 points over a 12-minute stretch across the third and fourth quarters, struggling with full-court pressure and a half-court zone.