The Raptors showed an unprecedented amount of resolve, and fought last night in their win vs the Detroit Pistons. The Raptors have been struck with an almost hilarious amount of injuries in the past few games. Not only are stars Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet out along with Precious Achiuwa, it was reported before the game that Raptors marksman Gary Trent Jr. was going to miss the game as well. So now the Raptors were down 3 starters coming into this game and they were going to have to rely on a lot of surprising players in this game.
To start the game last night Toronto and Detroit were having an old fashioned slug fest and both teams were really doing damage by committee. Toronto was really punishing Detroit inside and especially in transition. This first quarter is where you knew it’d be a special game for Dalano who was the spark Toronto needed on offense early on with OG and Scottie struggling. This was the most confident and aggressive Dalano has ever been and you could see that just by the way he shot the ball with conviction, ran like a mad man in transition, and moved off the ball. The Pistons weren’t lying down though, led by Jaden Ivey they generated multiple great 3 point looks and cashed in and really gave Toronto trouble on the glass.
The second quarter was where Chris Boucher did a lot of his damage scoring the ball. Boucher is known for his relentlessness on the glass leading to easy second chance points and he is also known for his solid outside shooting, but this quarter he took a page out of Pascal Siakams book and dominated the game from the mid range. Multiple times in this quarter Chris Boucher attacked a closeout and comfortably pulled up for a mid range shot, he even threw in a step back! This quarter is also where we got some great Jeff Dowtin Jr. minutes. Jeff Dowtin is a guy who I have been clamoring for since the summer and to see him get in the game and provide some positive minutes truly warmed my heart. Dowtin came in and immediately got a steal which he took down the floor for an emphatic slam. Dowtin had some nice moments on the ball, using his shiftiness to stay in front of ball handlers and he moved well without the ball in the halcourt for Toronto and even get an easy layup off a feed from Thad Young. With all this happening though the Raptors couldn’t find a way to stop Detroit, anytime the Raptors put together any kind of momentum there was a breakdown on defense and Detroit was able to stay close in this game. Toronto had a 7 point lead going into halftime but the Pistons were right there and not ready to go away.
The third quarter is where Toronto was able to finally get some separation and also where OG really found his footing on offense. Early on in this game OG was relying too much on mid range jumpers to score and it wasn’t going well so in this quarter he decided to show the Pistons his strength. A drop step on the smaller Killian Hayes for a dunk and a hook shot after bumping the smaller Alec Burks sent the message that no Piston had the strength to match OG if he decides to use it. Another surprising Raptor helped keep the lead and it was Juancho Hernangomez who had his fingerprints all over this game and was just moving well all night and gave the Raptors 7 points in the quarter. Toronto was going into the 4th quarter with an 11 point lead but the game was far from over.
The 4th quarter was a very dramatic one. Toronto simply had no answer for Jaden Ivey’s speed and he was bruning defenders left and right getting to the rim and spraying out the ball to get easy looks for his teammates. Scottie Barnes’ defense was really put on blast this quarter when for some reason he was tasked with guarding Jaden Ivey at the point of attack and consistently gave up drives. The hero of the fourth quarter and the game overall was Dalano Banton who once again was putting a lot of pressure on the rim and his jumper looked good as well as he scored 11 points in the quarter including some clutch free throws to send the Pistons home. Jeff Dowtin also had a crucial block on Jaden Ivey late in the game which is huge for his case to continue to get minutes.
Last nights game was the personification of next man up. Through all these injuries the Raptors simply had the “next man” step up in the form of Dalano Banton, Malachi Flynn, Juancho Hernangomez, and Jeff Dowtin Jr. All these guys are not locked into the rotation but tonight they had a huge impact on this game which was all you can ask for from the depth on your roster. The schedule gets tougher for the next few games but if we can continue to get these magical games from the depth on the roster the Raptors will prevail.