Title: Raptors Report: Scottie Barnes fuels a defence-first comeback, Freddie Gillespie’s Summer League struggles and more
Date: August 14, 2021
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Scottie Barnes fueling a comeback for the summer league Raptors, and a few other quick topics.
Longtime readers know how fond I am of bookending as a literary device. You start with one idea and, wherever the flow takes you from there, you eventually find your way back to that initial thought as a matter of emphasis. The Toronto Raptors are apparently quite fond of that narrative tool, as well.
To call the closing minutes of their 80-79 Summer League victory against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday a callback to the start of the game is almost comically underselling the issue. The game’s first and final minutes contained a litany of Hornets mistakes, both forced and unforced, as well as a Toronto offence that could only just take enough advantage for a tiny edge. Play this game out differently and the Raptors might win by 20. As it was, it took some end-of-game dramatics to move to 3-1 in Las Vegas.
It started with the type of defensive performance the front office surely envisioned when putting this group together. Malachi Flynn started at point guard and was flanked by four players between 6-foot-5 and 6-9, the shortest of whom, Ishmail Wainright, also happens to be a 240-pound mold of tungsten. There was length everywhere, excellent functional size despite no true centre-sized piece and a good amount of playmaking at every position. Charlotte had no answer whatsoever for that length, versatility and pressure. It took over three minutes for the Hornets to even hit the rim, starting the game with several turnovers and rushed air balls. After 3:53 of play, they finally scored. By the end of the first quarter, they’d crawled all the way to eight points.