On Wednesday, the Raptors travelled to Washington to face Bradley Beal and the Wizards. Toronto comes into the game undefeated on the road, while Washington has yet to drop a game at home. It was an intriguing matchup, with the Raptors coming out with the 109-100 win.
With the victory, Toronto starts their season 4-0 on the road for the first time in franchise history. With all the excitement surrounding the team playing at home, there has been some pressure to win at Scotiabank Arena. After losing to Washington in their home opener, Fred VanVleet talked about how the team felt like they let the crowd down. After being away for 600 days, they started the season 1-3 with all three losses at home. Since then, they’ve turned things around with a 5-game winning streak.
Led by Fred VanVleet, the Raptors controlled most of the game. He had a season-best 33 points on 13 of 22 shooting, along with 6 assists. When the Wizards cut into the lead, it was Steady Freddy who steered the ship back on course. A true leader, when VanVleet is “on”, it trickles down to the team. He struggled in their first 2 games and many were quick to wonder what was going on; seems he was feeling things out. With a new role and new team, there are bound to be some growing pains. But if there’s one thing we know about VanVleet… boy has game! And it was only a matter of time before things clicked.
In Wednesday’s win, OG Anunoby put up 21 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. His role this season has also changed, as he’s become more of a primary scorer, getting more touches and shooting opportunities. Anunoby has quietly worked in the Raptors system and is primed for his best season yet. He put up a career-best 36 points against the Knicks and seems to be getting more confident as the season progresses.
Gary Trent Jr followed up his season-best 26 points on Monday with a solid 15 points and 3 steals against Washington. Trent Jr’s defence is something that has been a standout early in the season. He’s averaging 2.8 steals per game and leads the league with 25.
Honourable mention: Svi Mykhailiuk continued his great play with another 15 point performance. In his last 3 games, he has scored at least 15 points on 60% shooting.
In the Wizards loss, Bradley Beal had 25 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. He is averaging 24.3 points per game in 36 minutes this season. Their bench dominated the Raptors second unit, 44-14. Toronto will need more from them if the team wants to be a contender in the East.
In the last 5 games, fans are beginning to see glimpses of what could be. A new leader who learned from the best, a confident OG who watched (and likely learned) from a fun guy, a rookie superstar with the attitude and skill Raptors fans have been clamouring for, to a young/fresh group of guys who are excited to put on for the city and believe in the system and process. Whatever happens, this season is going to be a wild ride.
UP NEXT: Toronto is back home on Friday to face the Cleveland Cavaliers @ Scotiabank Arena.