Raptors continue to struggle against elite teams after loss to Thunder

TORONTO, ON - MAY 27: Kyle Lowry
TORONTO, ON - MAY 27: Kyle Lowry /

Wednesday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was an opportunity for the Toronto Raptors to show what they can do against an elite team and unfortunately they came up short.

It appears that Paul Pierce may have been right when he said that the Toronto Raptors are not a team ready to contend for an NBA championship and the past two games are an example of that.

After losing 98-93 to the Dallas Mavericks who are in last place in the Western Conference, they had a chance to get back on track against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It was a promising start as the Raptors had 38 points in the first quarter and went into halftime down 66-63. Then things unravelled in the second half with the Raptors losing 124-107, Paul Geroge was seven of 10 from beyond the arc while Russell Westbrook added 30 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds.

The Raptors just could not matchup against the big three in OKC and it showed in the stat line. Donnovan Bennett wrote for Sportsnet that the trio of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka had 35 points and were a minus 69 while Westbrook, George and Carmelo Anthony had 81 points and were a plus 61.

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Simply put, that is not going to cut it against the elite teams in the league, while this could be a one off for the team after playing on back-to-back nights. The disappointing part that Bennett mentions was that DeRozan has been off the mark the past couple of nights.

The big story this season for the Raptors has been the strong play of the bench which allows them to run a strong rotation. The bench made their mark last night and outscored OKC 50-19 but in the end the star power of the Thunder were the story.

If DeRozan, Lowry and Ibaka are not able to step up against these elite teams, then the Raptors will have a tough time separating themselves from the pack. Luckily their next game comes against the Atlanta Hawks who own the worst record in the NBA so this gives the Raptors a chance to bounce back.

They could also learn to adjust their play against a more physical defending team like OKC. Eric Koreen from the Athletic wrote how DeRozan struggled against Andre Roberson who is a more physical defender which forced him to settle for more field goals which he struggled to put in.

This could also help the team realize that it could benefit from having another shooter in the lineup especially with Norman Powell struggling offensively this season. CJ Miles gives them that threat off the bench but he is the only one that is capable of doing it every game.

Should we be concerned with the Raptors’ performance against another elite team? Do they need to go out and make a move for another shooter? Let us know in the comments below.