By Redwan M

On December 14, 2019, the Raptors 905 (5-8) faced off against the Delaware Blue Coats (9-4) at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. Despite a promising run that saw the Raptors breaking out of and building upon some of their negative tropes, the squad came out short losing the game 107-114.

The game started optimistically for the Raptors as they took the lead from the get-go. They finished the first quarter up by three points. By the end of the first half, their lead was at seven points. This is notably significant for the Raptors as perhaps their greatest issue this season has been trailing early on. 

The impressive scoring in the first half was thanks to great performances by Nicholas Baer and Tyler Ennis who both scored 11 points in the first half. Justin Anderson also put up 8 points by this time whilst contributing crucial rebounds. There were several open looks in this half for the Raptors and they were able to capitalize on most of them.

This momentum continued until the early third quarter – peaking at the Raptors holding a 12-point lead. After this, the Blue Coats came back strongly. More efficient shooting, better defense, and just an overall morale boost led the Delaware team to outscore the Raptors 33-30 in the third. Also, it felt as if the Blue Coats were finally utilizing the size advantage they had on the Raptors squad. Poor initial defensive positioning from the Blue Coats inside left lanes and opportunities open for the Raptors. However, Delaware stepped up their defense greatly in the latter half and asserted themselves – utilizing their overall larger size – resulting in better contested shots.  Once the Raptors lost their initial lead, it was clear that the squad was losing their momentum and breaking down defensively. The Raptors closed off the third by retaining a small lead.

The Raptors maintained their small lead for a short while. However, Xavier Munford put up an impressive 11 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Blue Coats to victory. There was also a good deal of strong inside passes from the Blue Coats in this quarter. The ball was getting to the basket and easy points were being made. By the end of the game, Xavier Munford and Christ Koumadje of the Blue Coats each had put up 19 points. Perhaps even more impressing, a total of seven players from Delaware’s squad carried double-digit performances. 

Despite being a loss, the 905 ultimately put up an effort that should not go unnoticed. This game was very close and until the end, the Blue Coats did not hold a high lead against the Raptors. They preformed better today than for a lot of prior games this season. They were able to hold the lead from the start all the way until the third. Paul Watson Jr. of the Raptors put up a very impressive 21 points in this game. Recurring strong performances from himself along with Justin Anderson, Dewan Hernandez, and Tyler Ennis prove that the Raptors have the necessary talent to win more games. Last year’s G League MVP, Chirs Boucher, placed a spotlight on the emergence of talent from the Raptors 905. His influence is definitely shown on the aforementioned players and squad holistically. Nonetheless, the team collectively needs to play a bit more coordinated to improve this season’s record.

The Raptors 905 will look to implement these lessons and win at the Erie Insurance Arena on December 17, 2019 against the Erie Bayhawks at 7pm ET.

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