Up close & personal: Raptors beat Wizards in Montreal


As mentioned, I went to Montreal to see the Toronto Raptors – Washington Wizards pre-season game. The Raptors won 92 – 82, in front of a full house at the Bell Centre.

Here’s some gonzo journalism from an eye-opening night.

While I enjoyed watching the game from floor-level, I doubt I could get through a season from that perspective. It’s severely limited, and renders watching interior play at the other end all but impossible. However, seeing up close the pounding players take when the basket is attacked, or a rebound contested, was a worthy reminder of how difficult the game is at the highest level.

Watching TRoss contend with Kelly Oubre, one had a hard time figuring out who was the rookie. Oubre outsmarted our man several times, including a backcourt pickpocketing and a ball fake that had Terrence several feet in the air, to no avail. [20-second timeout: At dinner, Jerome (Junkyard Dog) Williams stopped by our table, and reminded us he coached Oubre, and that he thought the young man had a bright future. No argument there, JYD.] Terrence is going to need a bunch of injuries to our swingmen before he’ll start playing significant minutes. Yet he made a pair of threes, and we don’t have any floor-spacing on the second unit.

More from Raptors News

Patrick Patterson had a donut evening, missing all seven shots he tried. Luis Scola started at power forward, and continued his fine play, despite missing several open shots he’d normally make in his sleep. If you’re going to miss bunnies, now’s the time. He was the man who received the ball and made critical offensive decisions on a number of occasions when Jonas Valanciunas dropped to the low block.

Oct 23, 2015; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Washington Wizzards center Marcin Gortat (13) goes for layup as Toronto Raptors forward Bismack Biyombo (8) defends during the first half at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

We suffered through more than enough reminders of how bad Bismack Biyombo’s hands are. He can’t even manage a shovel pass without bobbling the ball, after which the opportunity to score is lost. Long-ago Toronto Maple Leaf  Howie Meeker’ once described himself as “… a good NHL player without the puck.” Sadly, we’re not playing hockey, and having a defensive specialist on the floor severely cramps the offense. Bismack can barely manage to set decent picks and receive and make passes. He’s no threat in the high pick-and-roll, and that’s an issue.

Cory Joseph needs to keep on keepin’ on. He carried the team in Q4 when it went into offensive vapour lock. CoJo knows how to milk the clock, and will explore all options before taking a fadeaway jumper as the clocks winds down. It’s as good a shot as we’re likely to get under the circumstances.

I liked the Raptors’ team defense overall. Most shots were challenged, and the paint was usually protected. However, the Wizards were substituting freely, so we shouldn’t get too excited.

Putbacks: There were over 20,000 fans at the game. Could Montreal actually support an NBA team?…Eugenie Bouchard was courtside, beside Didier Drogba…Biyombo welcomed the fans, in perfect French, prior to tipoff.

Next: ESPN predicts 44 wins for Raptors

More from Raptors Rapture