Former Toronto Raptor Watch: Play-in dominance

Photo credit: NBA Getty Images

I don’t need to remind Toronto Raptors fans that their team isn’t in the playoffs for the first time in a long time.

But that doesn’t mean the Raptors won’t have their hands all over the NBA Playoffs with 20 former members of the organization in the playoffs and play-in.

Nine of those former Raptors were in the play-in. Some made their mark, others not so much!

Here are some of the notable play-in performances from the play-in:

Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis Grizzlies: Two games: 31 MPG, 13/22 FG (59 percent), 5/10 FT (50 percent), 16 PPG, 17.5 RPG, 2 APG, 1.5 BPG, combined plus-35.

The big fella was a wrecking ball against the San Antonio Spurs, popping off for 23 points, 23 rebounds, and three blocks. It was his fourth 20/20 game of the season and it doesn’t even count because the NBA decided play-in games weren’t regular season stats or playoff stats. Weird.

Anyway, he also had this incredible sell job.

The Spurs had no answer for him on the glass, including another former Raptor who we’ll get to in a moment.

Against the Warriors, JV struggled with foul trouble and eventually fouled out. He was once again a force on the glass, picking up 12 boards (six on the offensive glass!) in 26 minutes to go along with nine points and three assists.

He’ll be moving on to the real playoffs against the first-seeded Utah Jazz where he won’t have as easy of a time on the glass or in the paint against Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert.

Oshae Brissett, Indiana Pacers: Two games: 31 MPG, 14/24 FG (58.3 percent), 5/11 3P (45.4 percent), 4/8 FT (50 percent), 16.5 PPG, 5.5 APG, combined plus-10.

Like the final scores of the Pacers games, it was two different stories for the Toronto-native.

In his first play-in game against the Charlotte Hornets, Brissett was a force. He had a team-high 23 points on 10/14 shooting (3/6 from three) to go along with five rebounds and two assists in a 144-117 win. He had some thoughts on the Hornets less-than-inspired performance too!

Game two against the Washington Wizards, Brissett and the Pacers were the ones with a less-than-inspiring performance. The 22-year-old had 10 points (4/10 shooting, 2/5 from three) with six boards and a steal in their 142-115 loss.

Brissett was a fantastic find for the Pacers in the midst of their injury struggles. In his final 16 games (also the ones where he saw more than 10 minutes), Brissett averaged 13.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game and 62.5 percent true shooting.

Brissett has another year on his contract and then a team option in 2022/2023.

DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs: One game: 38 minutes, 5/21 FG (23.8 percent), 10/11 FT (90.9 percent), 20 PTS, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, minus-11

It was a forgettable play-in for DeRozan.

A notoriously shaky playoff performer, DeRozan’s field goal percentage drops from 46.0 percent for his career in the regular season to 41.4 percent in the playoffs (including the play-in).

To give Deebo some credit, he had eight of his 20 points in the fourth quarter along with two assists. He shot 2/5 from the field and went 4/4 from the line, including a bucket that actually gave the Spurs an 80-79 lead midway through the fourth.

This was potentially DeRozan’s last game with the Spurs as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent this off-season.

Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio Spurs: One game: 32 minutes, 4/6 FG (66.6 percent), 10 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 blocks, minus-10

The best performance of the former Raptors on the Spurs, Poeltl did what he does best: protect the rim.

He struggled, like most of the Spurs did, at keeping Valanciunas off the glass (told you we’d get to it!), but the 25-year-old still made his presence felt on defence.

This year was the first in a three-year contract Poeltl signed last off-season. He has become a very good defensive presence and his breakout made long-time Spur LaMarcus Aldridge expendable.

Rudy Gay, San Antonio Spurs: One game: 27 minutes, 8/21 FG (38 percent), 3/7 3P (42.8 percent), 20 points, 7 rebounds, plus-6

Despite the relatively inefficient performance from inside the arc, Gay was part of a Spurs bench unit that helped get them back into the game and be in position to win late.

He hit a late three to make it a three point game with under ten seconds left, but it wouldn’t matter in the end.

Like DeRozan, Gay will become an unrestricted free agent in the off-season. The 34-year-old has made a nice transformation from a slashing wing player to a stretch big, even getting some burn as a small-ball centre the last couple of seasons.

Other former Raptors in the play-in:

Marc Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers: Did not play (but definitely should have over Andre Drummond). Advanced to the first round of the playoffs.

Alex Len, Washington Wizards: Two games: 12.5 MPG, 4/10 FG (40 percent), 4.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, combined minus-4. Advanced to the first round of the playoffs.

Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets: One game: 3 minutes, minus-7. Lost to the Indiana Pacers, eliminated from the playoffs.

Alfonzo McKinnie, Los Angeles Lakers: Did not play. Advanced to the first round of the playoffs.

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