The Toronto Raptors finally get back into the win column after defeating the Charlotte Hornets at home.
Coming off a disappointing latter end of their western conference road trip, the Toronto Raptors were able to turn things around with a win against the Charlotte Hornets. Although it didn’t come in the way Toronto would’ve desired, it was a win nonetheless. Here are a few key takeaways from the Raptors victory on Thursday night.
#1: Chris Boucher deserves that starting center spot
Chris Boucher has bloomed into a terrific player right before our eyes. The 28-year-old center has played nothing less than a great game in and game out. Boucher is currently averaging 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game on 67 percent shooting from the field. He continued his stellar play with a huge double-double, tallying 25 points and 10 rebounds.
He led the Raptors in scoring and remained a consistent source of offence for the Raptors as he shot 67 percent from the field. Boucher has been by far the best player at the center position for the Raptors, and the question has to be asked soon. When will Nick Nurse give Boucher the starting center role?
Aron Baynes had another subpar performance as he only saw 8 minutes of action, and was only able to grab 1 rebound. With Boucher playing the way he has, it will be hard to not start him for the remainder of games in the NBA season.
#2: Raptors need to keep the intensity for 48 minutes
Every single game that the Raptors have played, they have had a stretch where they look completely out of sorts. In Thursday’s game, it was during the fourth quarter.
After scoring 99 points through three quarters, the Raptors only finished with 111 points. Being outscored 22-12 by the Hornets. Toronto didn’t see their first points of the final period until 5 minutes into the fourth. That was detrimental to the lead that they worked so hard in attaining.
The Raptors tend to give up large leads, which has resulted in the majority of the losses that Toronto has suffered so far this season. Not only does the offense go stale during their slumps, but they also let their woes offensively affect their play on the defensive end.
The lack of intensity from Toronto allowed Charlotte to get back into the game quickly. If it wasn’t for the Hornets taking low-quality ill-advised shots, the Raptors could’ve easily walked lost that lead completely. The Raptors need to maintain that pressure they apply at the beginning of the game for all four quarters, in order to reach that point of dominance they have been at for the past few seasons.
#3: Bench provided great energy
Stanley Johnson deserves the minutes that he has been receiving. The energy that he brings on defense alone, has been such a factor in the success that the Raptors have seen during stints of the last few games. There’s nothing more that is needed from players like Stanley Johnson and Yuta Watanabe than playing hard on the defensive end. Whatever is provided on offense is just a bonus.
Johnson was able to provide two threes that gave the Raptors much-needed life and energy, especially at the moment that he made them. Watanabe continues to impress with his great lateral quicks, and his ability to use his feet and stay poised on the defensive side of the court.
Norman Powell provided some spark on offense with 11 points, and Malachi Flynn was a bright spot in the limited minutes that he played. If Powell can give 10-15 points every night, that will be a luxury for Nick Nurse and the coaching staff.
The performances of the bench showed what Toronto’s second unit is capable of accomplishing. As mentioned earlier, Chris Boucher was a huge reason for this as he had over half of the accumulative bench points that the Raptors scored. With the bench getting better and performing with energy and poise, the Toronto Raptors will be back in playoff contention in no time.