Monday night the Raptors came home to play the 11th seed Dallas Mavericks at the ACC – first time playing in front of their home crowd since March 1, 2017. They were able to walk away with the win outscoring the Mavs 100 – 78, ending a short (but frustrating) two game losing streak.
There was a sense of ease in the way the boys played and it even ended with smiles as Norman Powell blessed the crowd with free pizza. So what about them changed since their game against the Heat?
Well for one thing DeMar was back. Playing 32 minutes, DeMar contributed 25 points, shot 10/17 and was perfect from the line. Compared to his 31% shooting against the Heat, DeMar made his presence known Monday night and played his style of ball – aggressive. We saw the fade-away shooting, slam dunking, stank face wearing DeMar DeRozan that we so desperately need during Kyle’s absence.
Another thing we did well? Rebounding, shocker right? This has been a constant frustration for Raptor fans throughout the season but since the addition of Tucker and Ibaka, the team has been able to refocus. We had 55 rebounds against the Mavs compared to the 35 against the Heat. We have always had trouble holding on to the ball down low so this game showed that perhaps this problem has been addressed.
Finally, what else helped us out? Pat Man showed up. According to Josh Lewenberg, Patrick Patterson has not hit three 3-pointers since December 26, 2016. Considering Patty helps us stretch the floor, his lack of offensive presence was becoming a concern. He was 3/5 beyond the arch cashing in 11 points and 7 rebounds. We were reminded of what he can contribute on both ends of the floor and what key role he has in our second unit.
Raptors continue to have their work cut-out for them considering there is no definitive date for Kyle’s return nor has there been consistency with Carroll’s injury. They will be tested yet again on Thursday when they take on a much better OKC squad. Though I’m not completely impressed with Westbrook's record setting triple doubles, he will be a force to be reckoned with. Let’s just hope the Raptors are ready to take them on.
Sources: ESPN, The Score