10 issues: Lowry and Siakam thrive, whereas NBA bungles COVID protocols

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Listed below are 10 takeaways from the Toronto Raptors’ 123-117 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

One — Gritty: It was a sloppy and uneven sport from begin to end however it was the Raptors who emerged victorious over the heavily-favored Nets. The Raptors got here out robust, capitalizing on the Nets’ mushy inside protection for a parade of layups, however the Nets closed the hole with scorching three-point taking pictures and a foul taking pictures disparity that was 17-Three at halftime of their favor. The 2 groups traded punches in a second half, and it was Kyle Lowry who pushed the Raptors excessive with a collection of good performs within the fourth quarter. This was a wierd sport for a lot of causes, and it doesn’t matter what comes of it, no less than the Raptors got here away with the win.

Two — Genius: Lowry was scorching scorching from the beginning, nailing two pull-up threes, a protracted two, and a putback layup all in his first shift. He ceased management to Pascal Siakam within the third quarter as Siakam merely had his approach within the paint, however Lowry subbed in early within the fourth quarter and closed the deal in emphatic style. He nailed three triples, a driving layup, and located Chris Boucher and Pascal Siakam for layups across the basket after drawing in your complete Nets protection, on prime of gathering steals and searching down rebounds on each ends of the ground. In a sport that includes three of the league’s flashiest gamers, it was Lowry’s star that shined the brightest. It was his finest efficiency of the season, by far.

Three — Insistent: This additionally occurred to be one in every of Siakam’s finest video games of the season, which could replicate on Brooklyn’s lack of ability to defend. Siakam received to the basket at will, establishing store within the publish and torching each defender the Nets threw at them. The one participant who gave him any hesitation was DeAndre Jordan, who flat-out ignored Aron Baynes to tag Siakam like a shadow, however the Nets most popular to downsize and play small with Jeff Inexperienced at middle, and that freed the lane for Siakam to feast. He scored 15 of his 33 factors within the third quarter, ending the body with a slick spin transfer that dropped Kyrie Irving whereas Siakam raised up for the turnaround jumper. Siakam was additionally in every single place on protection, gathering a steal and blocking Bruce Brown on the basket to assist the Raptors safe the win within the fourth quarter.

4 — Distant: Siakam is discovering his rhythm of late as his up-and-down season continues. His inside scoring is extraordinarily promising, however his whole disregard for the surface shot is already being written into the scouting report. The Nets’ perimeter protection on Siakam would have handed COVID-19 protocols and Siakam by no means as soon as tried his luck to maintain the protection trustworthy. Though this might create spacing points, it truly performs into Siakam’s fingers because it permits him to dribble freely and get into his spot. One of the best ways to cease Siakam is to place a wing participant on him, assault his free deal with, whereas sending a second defender to assist on the basket. Shedding because the Nets did simply provides him an invitation to carry the ball to the paint.

5 — Senseless: The NBA has some explaining to do for his or her well being and security pointers. First, it was introduced shortly earlier than tip-off that Kevin Durant wouldn’t be out there because of contact tracing, which continues to be moderately late since he warmed up, however no less than it was caught in time. Then, eight minutes into the primary quarter Durant checks into the sport with the announcement that every part was positive. Halfway by the third quarter, after Nets coach Steve Nash used his coach’s problem to erase Durant’s fifth foul, the league out of the blue yanked Durant with the discover that he got here in touch with somebody who was optimistic. However someway the sport was nonetheless allowed to proceed, despite the fact that Durant had performed 19 minutes and spent halftime cooped up along with his teammates within the locker room. It’s simply one more instance of how poorly mismanaged the NBA has been with regard to their protocols, and it brings into critical doubt as to how the Raptors and Nets can transfer ahead.

Six — Aggressive: With out Durant, the Raptors have been capable of hone in on James Harden, who runs level for the Nets forward of Irving. It’s not an unusual technique, because the Raptors used it final season in opposition to Harden when the Houston Rockets have been in Toronto, and just like that sport, it led to a quiet evening for Harden who had simply 12 taking pictures possessions. Harden noticed a second defender above the three-point line to dissuade his drives, and rotated out to cowl the shooters as a secondary possibility. The end result was that the Nets’ secondary gamers typically had open seems to be, however it was the lesser of two evils, and it saved Harden from getting right into a rhythm. Harden missed two step-back threes within the fourth and he didn’t generate sufficient offense in crunch time.

Seven — Lively: Nurse leaned closely on Boucher all through the sport, enjoying him for your complete fourth quarter, and was rewarded for his belief. Nurse’s technique to collapse closely on Harden, and to a lesser extent on Irving, put a premium on power and athleticism to beat the Nets’ passing, and Boucher was tireless in his efforts. Boucher was each a deterrent on the rim, in addition to an element on the three-point line with one other blocked jumper so as to add to his already spectacular tally. Offensively, with the Nets being so fixated on Lowry and Siakam, Boucher was persistently open as an possibility on the roll. Boucher completed the sport with 17 factors and 9 rebounds with two blocks to snap out of his chilly stretch over the previous two weeks.

Eight — Strong: DeAndre’ Bembry continues to provide when referred to as upon. Bembry jumped forward of Terence Davis because the lone guard off the bench for the Raptors, and he was given the on-ball task in opposition to Harden. Bembry’s exercise on protection is persistently excessive, and whereas he isn’t a grasp of something on offense per se, Bembry does a extremely good job of becoming in. He cuts behind the protection, he makes good passes, he can knock down the occasional three, and he doesn’t power something. Particularly, Bembry continues to point out nice chemistry with Lowry, as the 2 join no less than as soon as per sport on an attention grabbing passing sequence. Tonight, it was Bembry timing his reduce alongside the baseline as Lowry drove in with the ball from the highest, catching the go down low, and Bembry immediately sliding it to Boucher for the straightforward dunk.

9 — Regular: Baynes has quietly settled into his function after a depressing begin to the season which noticed him benched for Alex Len, who was promptly reduce. There are nonetheless some chemistry and spacing points to be labored out within the frontcourt pairing between Baynes and Siakam, however he appears to be on the identical web page as everybody else. Baynes took a cost, he nailed a 3, received a putback, and did a good job of sticking with Jordan and stopping him from elevating for lobs. The Raptors actually don’t want that a lot from Baynes, and he ought to know tips on how to play as an skilled veteran who has frolicked with two successful franchises.

Ten — Invisible: This was a quiet evening for Yuta Watanabe and Stanley Johnson, who had been the Raptors’ two most lively defenders on the season. Watanabe was a step late on a number of shot contests which led to threes for the Nets, and Johnson was hardly into the sport which appears not like him. Nurse correctly restricted each their minutes within the second half and put in his starters early within the fourth quarter to shut.

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