After a dominant 116-87 performance on March 13th against the Austin Spurs, The Raptors 905 returned to the Hershey Centre on the day after St. Patrick’s Day. The 905 were looking to get their 33rd win of the season, in their first of their ‘home and home’ with the Long Island Nets. Although the 905 punched their ticket to the playoffs last Saturday, this game had playoff implications. With the win, the 905 could clinch first in their division, which would be their first division banner in their short history. A winning result for the 905 was expected by many of the experts. The 905 and the Nets are having much different seasons. The 905 are enjoying a 32 -11 season, while the Nets are 15-29. However, with the injuries to key 905 role players, C.J. Leslie and Antwaine Wiggins, a win for the 905 was not going to be easy. Nevertheless, the 905 got help in the form of call up Pascal Siakam. With Siakam, the 905 jumped to a 7-0 run at the start of the game. That was not an indication of things to come as this game was a tit for tat offensive barnburner in the first half.
Led by the stellar first half play of R.J. Hunter and J.J. Moore, who scored 15 and 13 first half points respectively, the Long Island Nets were in reach. The Nets were down 63-57 at the half. However, the North Side were able to turn it on defensively and maintain their offensive sharpness, as the 905 had a great 3rd and fourth quarter to pull out a 120-105 victory. Not only were the 905 able to keep J.J. Moore from scoring in the second half, the 905 had 7 players score double figures. This was in large part to the 905’s season high 39 assists, which was something Raptors 905 Head coach Jerry Stackhouse was pleased about.
“It’s beautiful to watch. Our offensive is really fun to play in, fun to watch right now. Everyone is sharing the ball.”
9 of those 39 assists came from Brady Heslip, who had a solid 18 points. Coach Stackhouse was quick to praise the guard. “He (Brady Heslip) did a great job of running the show. (he had) 9 assists from the point guard spot.” Edy Tavares was also a big help offensively and defensively for the home team. Tavares had 18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 blocks. After the game, coach Stackhouse said this about Tavares’ performance.
“Edy has come a long way. Everyone wants to talk about his offense but I’m so impressed with what he’s doing defensively. This guy can get up and guard pick and rolls… but back to offense, he’s really who we are. We are a punch it inside team, an inside-out team and it all starts with him.”
As for the call up Pascal Siakam, he poured in 18 points on 8 of 14 shooting from the field. Siakam also contributed with 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 3 steals. What was even more impressive was his ability to find a way to maintain his aggressiveness on both sides of the floor, after he got in early foul trouble. Siakam has 2 fouls in the first quarter and 3 by halftime. However, Siakam did not commit a foul in the second half and was able to score 12 of his 18 points in the very same second half. When asked about how he was able to maintain his aggressiveness, Siakam responded
“I was in foul trouble and normally you try to relax a little bit but I come here to learn and get better. In circumstances like that, I am just trying to go out and still play and still be aggressive and just be smart to not get stupid calls.”
There will be no rest for the weary 905, as they have their second game in as many nights against the same Long Island Nets squad at 6:00 pm. This time it will be at the Nets home, inside the confines of the Barclays Center