Toronto Raptors Survive the Oregon Trail

Dec 26, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) looks on from the court during a stop in play against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center. The Raptors won 95-91. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 26, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) looks on from the court during a stop in play against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center. The Raptors won 95-91. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite a sloppy first quarter, the Toronto Raptors (22-8) grinded through the rest of the game to scrape past the struggling Portland Trail Blazers (13-20) sans Damian Lillard.

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Thoughts and Observations

  • This was probably the worst win the Toronto Raptors have had all season. They shot 33.7 percent from the field, in a victory.
  • Pascal Siakam is starting to get the ceremonial start for the Raptors now. He played the first 6 minutes of the game but was never seen again. Siakam used to be a significant player within the rotation but over the past few games the rookie’s minutes have shrunk to minuscule levels.
  • Cory Joseph throws the ugliest lob passes. His lobs are either too high, too fast or come in at a weird angle so Lucas Nogueira is struggling to catch them. The Raptors love throwing lobs to BeBe but if Joseph can’t find the touch he may need to stop throwing them as they typically lead to live ball turnovers.
  • Norman Powell

    saw significant burn and was in during crucial possessions at the end of the game. All those minutes Siakam has vacated recently are now allocated to Norman Powell giving the Raptors a way to play small ball.

    More from Tip of the Tower

  • The flagrant fouls are starting to get ridiculous. Patrick Patterson was whistled for a flagrant 1 after fouling Mo Harkless from behind. It was an ordinary foul, Harkless even made it to the rim easily and hung on, but when he released he came down akwardly and hit his head, prompting the referees to look at the play. Fouls need to initiate excessive or unnecessary contact to be considered a flagrant 1 which wasn’t the case here Harkless just landed akwardly on his own volition.
  • The Raptors play legit small ball now, with the extension of Powell’s minutes the Raptors are rolling out a lineup of Lowry-Powell-DeRozan-Carroll-Valanciunas and it looks promising. The Raps have just started doing this so any statistic will be subject to small sample bias but the idea is great in theory and is starting to pan out on the court.

    Whenever Bebe has to make a defensive decision he struggles. In the second half the Raptors begun trapping CJ McCollum’s pick and rolls. On more than one occasion BeBe is getting caught on the wrong side of the screen obliterating the Raptors’ trap and allowed for easy layups at the rim.

  • At the end of the first half and the last two minutes of the game the Raptors ran a 2-1 pick and roll, an unorthodox set that is designed to get DeMar DeRozan going downhill towards the basket. The screen doesn’t have to cause a switch, it just needs to create enough air space so DeRozan can get a drive to the rim — Mason Plumlee is not a rim protector.
  • The first quarter was filled with turnovers and blatantly missed shots. It’s the first game back after Christmas so they’re is going to be some rust to shake off but I swear I could hear Yakkity Sax being played in the background for portions of the first half.
  • Terrence Ross actually injured his wrist on that’s 360 dunk and had to be taken out of the game.
  • RBX (Raptors Bandwagon Exchange)

    • Buy: Norman Powell is starting to receive regular minutes and coach Dwane Casey is starting to implement a small ball lineup that allows Powell to play with the Starters. Powell’s minutes fluctuated at the start of the season.
    • Sell: Sell everything Siakam. The rook only player six minutes tonight and now with Powell getting more insistent minutes Siakam might find himself as the odd man out. I know Siakam stock is low but if you listened to me earlier in the season you would have sold at all-time highs.

    Three Stars of the Night

    1. Kyle Lowry: Even in Portland, it’s still Lowry time scoring 27 points on 8-of-18 shooting doesn’t a seem that impressive until you realize that the entire raptors team shot 33 percent from the field. Combined with seven rebounds, Lowry shot 5-13 from deep and was one of only three Raptors to hit a three-pointer
    2. DeMar DeRozan: 20/10 is an unusual stat line for a guard when it involves rebounds. There were so many misses that someone needs to grab the ballot on the glass. DeRozan has rounded out his game, he also chipped in with three steals and seven assists, but he gets penalized for his inefficient 8-of-22 shooting and uncharacteristic three turnovers.
    3. CJ McCollum : CJ posted 29 points on 12-of-23 shooting and chipped in seven assists. Unsurprisingly he killed the raptors in the midrange as that’s what they I opt to give up in the pick in the pick and roll. When Lillard I unavailable someone has to pick up the slack, luckily the Blazers have McCollum who is an amazingly combo guard.

    Statline of the Night


    the Raptors shot 33 percent from the field and it was ugly. The Raptors are a top five offensive team this year but they’re bound to have off nights, this just happened to be one of them. This game looked like what it was, the first game back from Christmas, the rust was obvious.

    What’s Next

    The Raptors will continue on their west coast road trip, next stop Oakland. The Golden State Warriors will host the Raptors after suffering a heart wrenching defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Every time these two teams play it’s a thriller. Lowry refuses to backdown to Stephen Curry and both team’s offences are undeniable. Expect lots of threes, lots of dunk, and probably a flagrant foul.

    Next: Raptors defense is a problem without solution

    What did you think of the Toronto Raptors 95-91 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.