1) Kawhi vs. DeMar
The last time these two teams met, DeRozan registered the first triple-double of his career. On Friday night, he was similarly motivated to show the Raptors what they were missing.
If we look at the statistics alone, DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard had comparable evenings. DeRozan recorded 23 points, a game-leading eight assists and four rebounds, while Leonard countered with a game-high 25 points, six boards and two dimes.
However, this doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, Leonard had a tough night shooting the rock.
The 2014 NBA Finals MVP missed 11 of his first 13 shots, as he struggled to find his rhythm. He did recover somewhat after this point, but still finished just 8-for-25 overall as he struggled to deal with the Spurs’ defensive schemes.
The reality is that DeRozan outplayed his replacement in Toronto for the majority of the night. As much as he didn’t want to leave the Raptors, you can see clear evidence of how coach Gregg Popovich has helped him take his overall game to another level.
Of course, as they often say, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Which brings us to our next takeaway…