Basketball

Series of Unfortunate Events: 3 Takeaways from Raptors-Nets

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The Toronto Raptors got their 10th win of the season and handed the Brooklyn Nets their 10th loss of the season in a truly wild game. It had everything, from drama to highlights. Here are three key takeaways from Raptors-Nets.

Tough Whistle

It’s no surprise that the refereeing has not been at a great standard, especially for the Raptors. They had a mere 14 attempts at the free-throw line in comparison to the 29 for the Nets. The calls have been just atrocious, with two Raptors players bleeding is that not being enough to warrant a call?

In addition to this, both coaches’ challenges used tonight were successful. Whether or not that was justified was another issue. The first challenge was on a foul called on Kevin Durant in transition. What appeared to be a clear foul was actually overturned, and the refs seemed to make up for it later in the game when they gave the Raptors a successful challenge too.

On another note, I would like to mention the referees’ issue and the backlash from fans. I never defend the referees, but I have a problem when the woman is getting inappropriate slander, and the men are not. You don’t need to make sexist comments or place a picture of her next to an animal to show criticism. Read that again. The referees deserve criticism for the calls they have been making, but there is a difference between that and outright disrespect.

Health and Safety Protocols are a Joke

The most memorable thing that will come from this game is what happened with Kevin Durant and contract tracing. Like a rollercoaster, KD’s appearance was up and down. Before the game started, it was announced that he would not play due to health and safety protocols.

Much to our surprise, we would soon see Durant come out onto the court. After 19 minutes played off the bench, Durant gets pulled out once again.

This doesn’t seem to be a good look for the league’s decision to let him play earlier, even though contract tracing led to inconclusive results. The official statement regarding the situation helped cement the bad look.

This raises some questions on the league’s protocols and why they continue to allow players on teams to show up with inconclusive tests. In a time of uncertainty, sitting a player out for one game until you get clear results is a minor inconvenience to the large scheme of things.

I’m not sure how Kevin Durant feels about that due to his Twitter activity right after, but that’s another story.

Defense? Offense? Let’s Discuss

The final score was 123-117, and while that is still pretty high for an NBA game, it’s pretty impressive for a Raptors-Nets match-up for two reasons:

  1. 123 points scored by the Raptors – They’ve had some painful offensive droughts this season, so putting up this number against the Nets was good for their offense, without taking into consideration the lack of Nets defense.
  2. 117 points scored by the Nets – After the blockbuster trade, the Nets became known for their offense (obviously). The Raptors holding them to 117 after the Nets scoring over 120 points in the last four games (with two games over 140 points by the way) without their best wing defender in OG Anunoby was better than expected.
Shot chart for Baynes, Bembry, Lowry, Powell, Siakam, VanVleet, Watanabe

As you can see in the chart above, the Raptor’s offense was scattered between the paint and beyond the arc. Kyle Lowry was the best player tonight, even three points behind Pascal Siakam’s 33 point performance. His ability to pull up from three in transition (or PU3IT as we call it) is crucial for the Raptors offensive capacity. On a night where Fred VanVleet wasn’t having a great shooting percentage, Lowry was able to do his thing.

On the defensive side, the Raptors had 10 steals and six total blocks. Chris Boucher staying hungry with two of those blocks and eight defensive rebounds has been very helpful for the Raptors. This hasn’t gone unnoticed.

In Conclusion

The Raptors still have so much to work on, but getting a win against the Nets is good for their morale going forward. It’s unclear as of right now what will happen with health and safety protocols, but it’s apparent that the NBA needs to get a grip on this before it spirals out of control. As the Raptors inch closer to .500, it will be interesting to see their ceiling for this season. It’s been rough for Raptors fans early on, but believe it or not, it’s getting better.

Make sure to follow Overtime Heroics on Twitter and myself (@crinamm) to stay up to date on games and situations in the NBA.

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Crina Mustafa is a first year Sport Media student with an interest in producing social media content and sport journalism. She is a basketball and tennis writer, and also manages social media for places like Raptors Cage. Crina is currently a NBA writer for Overtime Heroics.