Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors have been forced to look deeper into their bench with Kyle Lowry out and forced to find ways to win without their floor general.
And that is exactly what they did, on a tough back to back with no Lowry, the Toronto Raptors easily beat
an elite a very good a good Milwaukee Bucks team 110-96 and then squeaked out a win on Friday night 86-81 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It was fun (at times) to watch, as rookie guard Malachi Flynn got called back up from the G League when the coaching staff realized he was too good. Matt Thomas finally found some playing time and DeAndre’ Bembry is a starter now?
But one player stood out and was a large reason why Toronto was able to grab those two wins without number 7 and extend their three-game winning streak.
Stock Up: Norman Powell
What can I say? 60 points on 19/31 shooting over the last two games just speaks for itself.
The is guard is averaging over 20 points per game and over 50 percent from the field when he is in the starting lineup. Which begs the question, why isn’t he starting all the time?
There has been a lot of talk surrounding Norman Powell and the trade block recently.
Powell is set to be a free agent this year, unless he picks up his 11-million-dollar player option. Considering his play lately, he’d be stupid not to find out what he’s worth on the market.
Toronto could either trade him when his stock is at its highest or ride out the season with him with hopes of a decent playoff run, as I don’t think they’ll be able to afford him this summer.
Stock Down: Yuta Watanabe
Futures Market: Defence
It seems like Raptors players are finally starting to figure out the puzzle that is Nick Nurse’s defensive scheme.
It’s the first time this season where the Raptors have held opponents under 100 points in back-to-back games and both times they utilized their depth.
Believe it or not, in their game against Milwaukee, Aron Baynes led the team in plus minus at plus-19! (He was minus-12 yesterday but this is a win in my books).
Overall though, the defence looks more fluid and the fact that guys like Flynn and Thomas are getting into games for good minutes is a good sign that Nurse is starting to trust more guys on the team.
They only shot 32 percent last night, traditionally that shouldn’t win you a basketball game. But they held Minnesota to 81 points and they didn’t shoot much better at 38 percent. The Raptors also forced 28 total turnovers between the two games.
It’s comforting to know that even when Toronto is shooting poorly, they can rely on their defense to pull out the ugly wins – something you didn’t see at the start of the year.