Raptors 905 Playoff Recap: One Down Two to Go

WHITE PLAINS, NY - FEBRUARY 24: Alfonzo McKinnie
WHITE PLAINS, NY - FEBRUARY 24: Alfonzo McKinnie /

Raptors 905 began their quest for back-to-back championships Friday evening as they took on the Grand Rapids Drive. A game that was an absolute thriller.

The NBA G-League Playoffs started off with a bang. To start off, the fourth seeded Raptors 905 looked to successfully defend home court against the fifth seeded Grand Rapids Drive in an opening round, single elimination match.

Both Raptors 905 and Grand Rapids played with heavy hearts Friday evening. Less than one week ago, Grand Rapids forward Zeke Upshaw tragically passed away after collapsing on the court during the middle of a March 24th game against the Long Island Nets. Both team’s dedicated Friday’s contest to Upshaw. This was bigger than basketball.

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For those who did not watch the game, a link is available.

Game Summary

It was a back and forth affair all night long. To start, Grand Rapids narrowly escaped the first quarter with a five point lead. Things then slowed down in the second quarter, as the Raptors 905 scored just 22 points in the period. At the conclusion of the first half Grand Rapids was clinging to a one point lead, up 50-49.

The third and fourth quarters played out much like the first half. Neither team wanted to give up even the slightest edge. Both teams exchanged leads throughout the fourth quarter until Alfonzo McKinnie hit the dagger.

With the score tied at 88 and just over 30 seconds to play someone was bound to step up. McKinnie received the ball in the paint, drove to the basket and was able to get a tough shot to fall which, sealed Raptors 905’s victory. The shot was quite symbolic as McKinne was very good friends with Zeke Upshaw.

Individual Peformances

The Raptors 905’s Alfonzo McKinnie and Lorzeno Brown stepped up big time down the stretch. Brown led the team in scoring with 24 points on the night. McKinnie on the other hand was able to get to the rim with ease, as well as grab a couple critical offensive boards.

McKinnie was not the only dominant force on the glass Friday night. Kennedy Meeks also stepped up big for the 905, grabbing 10 boards in total, six of which came on the offensive end of the court.

While McKinnie and Meeks came up big on the interior, Malachi Richardson and Aaron Best came up big from beyond the arc. Richardson was 3-6 and Best was 2-3. Richardson was also the second-highest scorer for the 905 with 15 points.

Another major factor in the 905’s 92-88 victory, was their ability to shut down KJ McDaniels. The 25-year old was the Drive’s leading scorer, averaging 16 points per game. However,  McDaniels scored a mere 7 points and shot 3-15 from the field Friday evening.

Next: One Raptors' weakness for every playoff team.

The road to back-to-back championships continues for Raptors 905. Next up they will face the first-seeded Westchester Knicks on Monday, another tall task as they will be playing a team that is well rested after receiving a first round bye.