Since their game on March 27, 2017, the Toronto Raptors have played 5 games.
March 29, 2017 - vs. Charlotte Hornets
March 31, 2017 - vs. Indiana Pacers
April 2, 2017 – vs. Philadelphia 76ers
April 4, 2017 – vs. Indiana Pacers
April 5, 2017 – vs. Detroit Pistons
During this stretch the Raptors went 3-2, only dropping games to the Hornets and Indiana but we’ll get to that later. They averaged 47.4% from the field, 35% from the three, 42.4 rebounds and 80.2% from the free throw line. There were pretty significant things that occurred each game so let’s quickly run through them, shall we?
March 29, 2017: The Raptors took on the Charlotte Hornets and lost 110-106 which comes as no surprise considering the Hornets always plays well against The Raptors. Through the first three quarters of the game, it was evenly matched and it wasn't until the last moments of the game that the Hornets started to dominate. The Raptors had an 8-point lead going into the fourth but you can start to see that momentum shift. The winner of the game was decided in the last couple seconds as Hornets came up with huge threes to pull away from the Raptors. Two daggers were severed to Raptor fans that night - Kemba Walker’s three pointer with 0:37 seconds left and Marvin Williams with another 3-pointer at 0:08 seconds left to play. The Hornets outscored the Raptors 44-32 in the fourth which led to their victory.
March 31, 2017: The Indiana Pacers were not able to contain DeMar Derozan and the Raptors as Pacers lose 111-100. DeMar added his 7th 40+-point game of the season finishing with 40 points, shooting 42% from the field and making 3 out of 4 three pointers. Honorable mentions should be made for Jonas Valancinuas who finished the night with a double-double; 16 points and 17 rebounds. The Raptors dominated throughout the game but Pacers weren’t going to go away just yet, they will eventually got their revenge later on (dun dun dunnn).
April 2, 2017: The Raptors took on the Philadelphia 76ers where Serge Ibaka led the charge of a 113-105 victory of the 76ers. Ibaka finished the night 11 for 17 resulting to 24 points. DeMar DeRozan was relatively quiet throughout the game only contributing 17 points but was perfect form the line. Looking at the numbers from the game, both teams were evenly matched but it was the second quarter hole where the Raptors outscored the 76ers 31-20 that posed trouble for the young 76ers squad.
April 4, 2017: I wish I didn’t have to write about this game, because damn, it was just ugly but here it goes. The Raptors took on the Pacers yet again and during the first half of the game, it looked like they were going to cash in a win. But once they stepped on the court for the second half, it was as if a whole different team was playing. Despite a 51-40 lead for the Raptors, the Pacers went on to outscore them 68-39 in the second half (with 37 of those points coming in the 3rd quarter). Paul George completely took over and you started to understand why he was in the mix as an MVP candidate (just talks of MVP not actually winning it – relax). The Raptors lost 108-90 that night but Lance Stephenson of the Pacers decided that he should personally rub salt on the wound. With 3.3 seconds left, the Pacers inbound the ball to Stephenson and instead of dribbling the ball out, he decided to make a lay-up. Look, there are unwritten rules of basketball that everyone knows and this courtesy rule is one of them! Of course you make that lay-up Lance, no one is guarding you! Well that didn’t go over too well with DeMar DeRozan and PJ Tucker. There’s a perfect picture of these three guys that pin-pointed the exact moment that Lance was probably like “oh snap, I messed up…” You can see the veins of PJ’s neck popping and by the shape of his mouth; you can only assume what he was saying.
All three guys got technical fouls that night which led some to say that it was a dumb move on the Raptors because of the potential suspensions that could’ve resulted. But Coach Casey, along with pretty much all the fans, said that he supported his guys for standing up for themselves. Lance Stephenson later apologized to the Raptors in his post-game interview by saying that he got “caught up in the moment”. Oh please Lance…we teach high-school players to just dribble it out.
Lastly, the Raptors took on the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. They were able to come out with a 105-102 win with a little help from somebody…Kyle Freaking Lowry! He was back and he made sure people took notice. During Coach Casey's pre-game interview, he was asked what his expectations were of Lowry during his first game back in 5 weeks. Coach Casey nonchalantly said it was to get his game-legs back, to get familiar with this team because there were some players he had not played with yet. Leave it to the Raptors organization to down play things like injuries and returns. Kyle finished the game play 42 minutes (talk about going from zero to a hundred real quick) where he contributed 27 points and 10 assists. Say what?! This guy has not played a regulation game since February 15 and had wrist surgery but it was as if he did not miss a beat. Another honourable mention goes to JV who had 19 points and finally has the trust of Coach to finish out the game.
The Raptors play the Miami Heat tonight in their last home game of the season. They now sit 3rd in the East and only 2 games back from the Boston Celtics as they continue to battle it out for top spot in the Atlantic Division. With each game they win now, it’s a step close to that infamous 50+ win season. Even though the end of the season is just a couple of games away the last few will determine each team’s fate so it’s just a waiting game from here on out.