For the Toronto Raptors, expectations for this season weren’t exactly high, and with good reason.
Not many teams recover immediately from losing their best player. The Raptors, however, aren’t just any ordinary team. They are an extraordinary one, and with Kawhi Leonard choosing to vacate the snow topped Canadian wilderness for the sunny beaches of California, other names have had to step up to the plate this season.
Never was this more evident than last night’s 107-95 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, who, amazingly, remain winless at Scotiabank Arena since their last win there on November 10, 2012.
Over the course of 48 minutes, six Raptors scored in double figures. Spaniard, Marc Gasol had 17 points and was a perfect 7-for-7 including three three-pointers. It was a throwback appearance of sorts for the former Memphis Grizzlie.
Stormin’ Norman Powell chipped in with 18 points. Kyle ‘stop talking about my ass’ Lowry and Serge ‘what’s for dinner’ Ibaka finished with 16 each.
Fred ‘pay attention to me’ VanVleet scored 22 points, while Pascal ‘I’m still here’ Siakam had 18 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Raptors (30-14) to their fifth consecutive win.
While five straight wins is nothing to shout about, winning 15 straight home games against the Sixers is. On top of this, they are becoming historic: The Raptors are the first team to have had everyone who scored finish with 15 plus points, since the Orlando Magic, way back in February 1996. (For the Generation Z readers, that’s a time before iPhones and that thing called TikTok. What is the point of TikTok anyway? Asking for a friend.)
Toronto’s balanced play this season has gone against traditional NBA principles, but with no superstar on this roster, they haven’t had much choice. The great teamwork has turned the Scotiabank Arena into a place nobody wants to play. The Raptors are tenacious and smart on both ends of the court, and have upset even the most star studded of opponents.
Head Coach Nick Nurse had nothing but praise for the teamwork of his players. “It tells you that we’re sending the ball to an open player. We’re not really going through the same guys. We’re moving it. We’re just finding the right reads, I think, a lot. And everybody’s getting their cracks at it.”
Next up, the Raptors head to New York for a match-up with the Knicks, after that it’s down to San Antonio for a tussle with the Spurs on Sunday, which you can watch live on Sky Sports, with an early tip-off at 9pm (UK time).
Matt Co-Founded Double Clutch in July 2012 and is the current Editor-in-Chief / Lead Designer. He is a Los Angeles Lakers fan, a Brandon Roy stan and a stalwart of the vibrant UK-based community. He never shuts up about the fact Damian Lillard follows us on Twitter, and has represented Double Clutch as an analyst on BBC Radio 5 Live.