NBA Playoffs 2020: Off-Day Talk: Toronto Raptors frustrated after Game 1 struggles

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A poor start took the air out of their sails, a poor shooting night sunk them, and the Toronto Raptors find themselves on the other side of Game 1 in a hole against the Celtics.

After being trounced 112-94 on Sunday, the Raptors are quickly back to their Eastern Conference semi-final tomorrow evening for Game 2. It may be a must-win scenario against a Boston team that’s playing with extreme confidence.

Today, the team held their first off-day media session in a while — players hadn’t spoken to the media outside of a game since early last week, when Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell notably opened the door to what followed: a league-wide walkout over the Jacob Blake shooting and social injustice.

VanVleet got on the line first today and spoke to both on-court and off-court issues. Voting continues to be top of mind for NBA players, and the Raptors guard spoke to his own experience as a young voter in America.

When looking at Game 1, VanVleet had a succinct summary of what went down.

Fred is right — the Raptors really hurt themselves coming out without playing sharp basketball. Losing the first quarter 39-23, the Raptors hurt their own ability to use their defense to grind back into the game. Boston wouldn’t score 30 in a quarter again in the game, but the sloppiness in the first meant Toronto was never able to get back in.

Marc Gasol echoed VanVleet’s sentiment about needing to be on the ball.

As Daniel Hackett talked about in his tactical breakdown earlier today, there was a bevy of open threes for the Raptors in Game 1. If Gasol and his cohort started making them, we might be talking about something else entirely today.

Finally, Nick Nurse had his usual, tidy summation of a basketball game.

So, without getting into specifics, it’s clear the Raptors want to light a fire under themselves going into tomorrow’s Game 2. Everyone who talked today didn’t limit their discussion to either end of the floor. Toronto will need to be more consistent on defense and make more open shots on offense in order to tie this series up. There’s plenty of bright sides too: we’re early, we expected to see a long series, and there’s lots of time to make things right.

There’s a bright side off the court too, as Raptors’ families will begin entering the bubble today to take in the rest of the post-season.

Maybe the return of Fred Jr. is enough to get those threes to start falling again!