By: Redwan Majumder
The Raptors 905 season opener was not exactly the result that the official G League Associate of
the 2019 NBA Champions wanted, however, it was not exactly a complete loss either.
The roster this year was very interesting with three Canadians; Oshae Brissett, Tyler Ennis, and
Duane Notice. Furthermore, Duane is the team’s only returning player. This set the premise for a
new, yet promising, roster which can also explain much of what happened within the game.
To start, the first half of the game is best described as a neck-in-neck competition with the lead
frequently shifting. Dewan Hernandez was finishing strong and showing off his offensive
capability. Tyler Ennis did a great job at shifting the momentum whenever the Raptors 905 lost
the lead; getting the rhythm back offensively.
It is important to note that the G-League is testing out a new rule this season where there is one
foul free throw which is worth 2 points. On the positive side, this is good for retaining
momentum due to less stoppage. On the negative side, this gives less time for coaches to
recuperate and make sudden plans.
The first half ended at a score of 61 to 51 with the Grand Rapids Drive in the lead. The game
started to take a significant turn in the third quarter in favour to the Rapids. They played great,
raising their lead to 15 at a point. They held the competitive advantage in terms of defence which
made them very strong off the fast break to elevate their lead. Craig Sword and Pe’Shon Howard
led the pressure in this quarter; playing great offensively and even better defensively.
The fourth quarter consisted of sloppy play from the Raptors, resulting in the Rapids maintaining
their large lead without too much opposition. This is most likely a result of the aforementioned
inexperienced core in the Raptors. There is definitely room for chemistry to be developed and
more experience to gain. The match ended with the Rapids winning 109 to 94.
The reason that this season opener is not exactly a complete loss for the Raptors is because the
mistakes made are definitely fixable. The Rapids’ victory is definitely in part due to their
defensive ability, but also, due to the lack of excellent defence from the Raptors. For instance,
Hernandez played very well offensively scoring 24 points, however, he did not get a lot of stops.
Also, the Rapids did not shoot a lot of threes, but rather, were getting inside really easily
resulting in a consistent flow of many preventable points. This further proves that defence is
something the Raptors need to work on. Reviewing film will reveal these mistakes to the young
Raptors core and retuning coach Jama Mahlalela should be able to point them out – leaving a
premise of optimism for Raptors.
Ultimately, the game still ended with a chant of “Lets Go Raptors!” and, despite the mistakes,
the squad was giving it their all until the very last minute. It will be interesting to see if the
Raptors are able to learn something from these mistakes and reflect so in their next game in Westchester vs the Knicks tonight at 7pm.
Season Opener Gallery by @jv.shots