Toronto Raptors: OG Anunoby saves season, but work remains

Breathe, Toronto Raptors fans. OG Anunoby nailed a buzzer-beating miracle shot on an inbound play with half a second left to pump oxygen back into the season.

The Toronto Raptors were staring a 3-0 deficit to the Boston Celtics when Anunoby brought the defending champs back into the series.  OG played 45 minutes and recorded a double-double.

After some clamouring to get Anunoby more minutes, the 23-year-old did not disappoint.  His stat line does not do his overall impact on the game any justice.  The Indiana product is easily the Raptors’ best defender and the only guy capable of slowing down Jayson Tatum.

For the game, Anunoby had 12 points, ten boards, three steals and two blocked shots.  His defensive impact gave the Raptors a chance even to be able to win it at the buzzer.  It was not all rosy for the Toronto Raptors, and more work remains if they want to win this series.

Pascal Siakam is struggling to find his form.

Siakam had a dreadful first half and looked entirely out of place at times on Thursday.  Spicy P was repeatedly stymied trying to post up Jaylen Brown and only found success when he let his shot fly.

For the game, Siakam had 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists on 6 of 15 shooting.  In fairness, his plus-12 rating was the best on the team.  He seemed to build some confidence in the second half.

The New Mexico State star is averaging 18.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in the postseason on 39.5 per cent shooting and only 25 per cent shooting from long distance.  These numbers are down from his regular-season totals of 22.9 PPG, 7.3 RBG and 3.5 APG.  His shooting has also dropped from 45.3 FG% and 35.9 3P%.

This is a troubling trend for a player who the Raptors need to be one of their best night in and night out.  You can see the frustration building a little bit for Siakam.  If he can get his confidence back and play more as he did in the regular season, the Raptors are going to make this a series.

The guards need Norman Powell to give them a breather.

Head Coach Nick Nurse threw the kitchen sink at Boston in a defacto must-win for the Raptors.  Nurse ran guards Kyle Lowry and Fre VanVleet into the ground and with good reason, as they were Toronto’s best players.

Lowry played like the heart of the team that he is, recording 46 minutes and 29 seconds on the floor.  During that time, he recorded 31 points, six boards and eight assists on 13 of 23 shooting.  He was the engine that drove the Raptors, as he often is, and further cemented his legacy in Toronto basketball history.

Meanwhile, Fred VanVleet was not quite as efficient but made some absurdly clutch shots down the stretch.  FVV played nearly 41 minutes and had 25 points to go with three rebounds and six assists.

Curiously, Norman Powell only saw 15 minutes on the floor, despite putting up 8 points on 3 of 4 shooting.  He got into early foul trouble but still only had three fouls when the final buzzer sounded.

Nurse was riding the hot hands and justifiably so, but those guards cannot play that many minutes every night, especially Lowry.  Look for a heavy dose of Powell off the bench in Game Four, as a spark to the starters.

What did you think of OG Anunoby’s heroics in Game Three?  What do the Raptors need to do to win Game 4?  Please let us know in the comments below!

 

 

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