Five Thoughts on Game 45

The Toronto Raptors rolled into Minnesota last night to take on the Timberwolves, and for a half things went pretty well! Then the offense stalled, the defense couldn’t get a rebound, and even with an awesome game from Kyle Lowry (40 points) the Raptors couldn’t hold on for the win.

Click here to read Five Thoughts on Game 45: Wolves 115, Raptors 109.

Additional notes:

  • I’m not one to generally complain about officials, but a 42-21 free throw advantage for the Wolves—and 29 in the second half—certainly didn’t leave a good taste in one’s mouth.
  • Andrew Wiggins showed me something with a stellar first half. I’m not feeling those corn rows though.
  • This is an extra disappointing loss as the Celtics have lost two in a row, and the Raptors have missed a chance to make up a game on the conference leader.

Five thoughts on Game 44

It was another low-scoring affair last night, but the Toronto Raptors came away with the 86-83 win over the San Antonio Spurs. It breaks a Spurs’ four-game winning streak in the series, and was a much-needed win during this tough stretch.

Click here to read Five Thoughts on Game 44: Raptors 86, Spurs 83.

In place of the regular additional notes, three good Blake Murphy pieces for you. Promise they’re all worth your time!


Five thoughts on Game 43

The Toronto Raptors welcomed the Detroit Pistons to town last night, and though Toronto came away with a 96-91 win, it wasn’t pretty. There were turnovers, misses, poorly-handled traps, lackadaisical defense… this one had… well, not much. I mean, there weren’t any fights or technicals handed out, and no one’s getting fined for anything… so, victory?

It’s January basketball. Catch the excitement!

Click here to read Five thoughts on Game 43: Raptors 96, Pistons 91

Additional thoughts:

  • It was You Can Play night at the ACC. Really proud of the team and organization for embracing leadership in this area. This got me choked up:

  • Kyle Lowry started slow but settled in by the end, knocking down two key triples down the stretch. Hopefully the broken butt saga is over.
  • There aren’t many people that can make Jonas Valanciunas and Jakob Poeltl look small. Boban Marjanovic is one of those people.

Five thoughts on Game 42

The Toronto Raptors entered to the second half of the season on a losing note, dropping a scrappy game to the Philadelphia 76ers in Philly. They found themselves down big—again—and although they got to within 1 down the stretch, they couldn’t finish the deal.

Click here to read Five Thoughts on Game 41: Sixers 117, Raptors 111

Additional notes:

  • Kyle Lowry came back from his broken butt and played… like a player with a broken butt.
  • Lowry and Ben Simmons declared their intention to meet in the teachers’ parking lot after school to settle things. Shockingly, they didn’t.
  • Fred VanVleet banged up his knee and is day-to-day.




Five thoughts on Game 41

The Golden State Warriors dismantled the Toronto Raptors in 15 minutes of glorious basketball last night. The Raptors used the next 24 minutes to get back into it, but ultimately fell short.

Click here to read Five Thoughts on Game 41: Warriors 127, Raptors 125

A few additional thoughts:

  • Eric Koreen had a nice breakdown of how the Raptors are trying to mimic the Warriors on defense. The Warriors had this on display on the Raptors’ final possession last night; centre Kevon Looney switched off of Jakob Poeltl on to Fred Van Vleet, then off of VanVleet on to C.J. Miles, and defended the whole thing perfectly.
  • OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam were critical for the Raptors last night. Yes, Kevin Durant still had 25 on 10-18, but they made him work for it at least. And both played well on the offensive end as well.
  • DeMar DeRozan had 42, and although this is the first time the Raptors have lost this season when he’s cracked 30, he is now the Raptors all-time leader in 30-point games; last night was his 92nd, pushing him past Vince Carter atop the Raptors’ list.

Five thoughts on Game 40

It was Cavs vs. Raptors at the ACC last night, the first time these two times met since the Cavs swept the Raptors out of the playoffs last spring. I expected a similar result, since—even though the Raptors have the better record and have been playing better basketball lately—Toronto was without two starters (the injured Kyle Lowry and the suspended Serge Ibaka) and the Cavs would surely be looking for a bounceback after their previous game, a 26-point loss to the Timberwolves.

I certainly didn’t suspect a 34-point Raptors win.

Click here to read Five Thoughts on Game 40: Raptors 133, Cavaliers 99

A few additional notes:

  • When the Cavs—down 33 points—went on a 12-2 run in the third, I got a little nervous. Actually a lot nervous. Being a Raptors fan has clearly scarred me.
  • The Raptors’ 133 points were a franchise record for a regulation game. They’ve scored 125+ seven times this season, and are averaging 112.1 points per game, five more than their franchise record-setting 106.9 last season. I’d say the new offense is working pretty well.
  • This two-game stretch is the first time LeBron James has lost back-to-back games by 25+ points.
  • This photo fills me with joy:Fred Van Vleet & Jonas Valanciunas

Five Thoughts on Game 39

The Toronto Raptors dropped a heartbreaker last night, 90-89 to the scrappy Miami Heat. The Raptors hardly played their best, and the game was marred by ugly shooting and a couple scuffles, but Toronto had a chance—until a blown coverage cost them on the final play.

Click here to read Five Thoughts on Game 39: Heat 90, Raptors 89

A couple of additional Raptors notes:

  • Serge Ibaka, who just seems to get under some peoples’ skin, will likely be suspended for Thursday’s matchup against Cleveland, thanks to his third-quarter scuffle with James Johnson.
  • No word yet on Kyle Lowry’s status for Thursday.
  • We’ll see what the league has to say about DeMar DeRozan ahead of Thursday, thanks to his contretemps with Goran Dragic after the whistle. If the Raptors are missing those three—their top three scorers—it could be a long damn night.

RaptorsHQ: Five Thoughts on Game 38

It took them overtime to do it, but the Toronto Raptors managed to beat the Nets in Brooklyn last night, 114-113. I’ve got my usual five thoughts on the game, but, as noted earlier, my Raptors Five Thoughts have a new home, over at RaptorsHQ at the SBNation network.

Click here to read Five Thoughts on Game 38: Raptors 114, Nets 113 (OT)

Going forward I will continue to post links here, in my Raptorama category; I don’t think this will be the format but I haven’t figured out exactly what it’ll look like. Stay tuned!

A few additional Raptors notes:

DeMar DeRozan was on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast over the weekend, and it was well worth a listen. DeMar has grown into a thoughtful, engaging and interesting young man.

Speaking of DeMar, our old friend Doug Smith think DeMar’s the greatest Raptor ever. It’s hard to disagree at this point.

Eric Koreen with the late-night update on Kyle Lowry:


That’s all for today. Remember to read my recaps over at RaptorsHQ; check back tomorrow for my thoughts on tonight’s Raptors-Heat matchup.


News: A new home for Raptors Five Thoughts

Right, so yesterday I promised two pieces of news. The first was about Frankie Drake Mysteries; the second is about my Raptors Five Thoughts recaps. They’re moving!

It’s true, I will no longer be posting my recaps here at Starting today, they’ll be published on RaptorsHQ, part of the SBNation group of blogs.

You have questions? I have answers.

So… what does that mean for Raptors Five Thoughts?

Not much changes on the front end, really. I’m still planning on writing my Raptors Five Thoughts after each game, aiming to have them up the following morning, just like I do now. I’ll post links to them right here, and on Twitter. It’ll just mean one extra click for you, to get over to RaptorsHQ to read them.

It should also mean fewer typos and errors, now that I have an editor! 🙂

Personally, I’m hoping that the greater audience and the team of editors and contributors at RaptorsHQ will help me continue to improve my basketball writing and my insights on the team and the games.

Wait… SB Nation… weren’t they the ones in that Deadspin piece…

Yes. SB Nation has gotten some bad press over the way the compensate contributors (which is to say, by not compensating them). You can Google it. It’s all out there.

And you’re OK with that…?

Is it lame to say “it’s complicated”?

Here’s the thing. When publications “hire” writers without paying them (or pretty much any organization hires unpaid interns), it sucks, because 99% of the time, they are taking advantage of young, struggling professionals that need a break. The organizations get free labour and play the “you’ll get experience” and “you’ll get your name out there” cards, knowing those young folks will, of course, have to take the opportunity, because, yeah, they do need it to build a portfolio.

It sucks because those individuals, like everyone who does work or any kind of service, deserve to be paid for the work they do. Beyond that simple truth, it also seems self-defeating: if these are the future of the business and if you take advantage of them early, you’ll either drive them away or make them hate the business before they’ve even started. Doesn’t seem like good business.

So if an organization can’t or won’t pay contributors, they shouldn’t take advantage of those young folks who need a break… they should “hire” people like me: people who don’t need a break and can work for free because they want to, not because they have to. I’m already a successful professional writer; I already get paid to write in my day job. I’m not trying to break into the field or get experience or get my name out there. I don’t have to bust my ass to build a portfolio. I just wanna write about the team I follow.

I do it because it’s fun and I enjoy it. I can do it here or at RaptorsHQ or some other site, and if it ever stops being fun or enjoyable, I can stop any time. Young writers are not so lucky.

Did you deal with that?

Personally I am lucky. I did do an unpaid internship, but it was done through the Journalism program at Sheridan; it was limited to two months and the company and I both had to file reports back to the school, ensuring that the work I was doing was valuable and that I was not being taken advantage of. It was a great experience. And a few months later I landed my first pro job; it was mainly proofreading, with a little writing, and it was a fully salaried position. A few months after that I became a full-time writer at the same company. And I was on my way.

Far, far too many young writers (and young professionals in many fields) are not so lucky.

OK, so what now?

My Five Thoughts on Game 38: Raptors 114, Nets 113 (OT) will be posted at SB Nation’s RaptorsHQ later today! And that’s where you’ll find them going forward.

I hope you’ll continue to follow and read my Raptors Five Thoughts, and if and when you have feedback, please leave a comment here, on Twitter, or on RaptorsHQ, or contact me anytime.


Five thoughts on Game 37: Raptors 129, Bucks 110

The Toronto Raptors went into Milwaukee on Friday night and used a sensational third quarter to knock off the Bucks 129-110. Here are my thoughts on the game!