Toronto Raptors: Three takeaways from impressive win vs Pacers

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The night after beating Milwaukee on the road, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Indiana Pacers without Kawhi Leonard. What did we learn from another impressive win?

Except for one mediocre performance in Philadelphia, Kyle Lowry had been missing from the Toronto Raptors lineup for three weeks. The Raptors hadn’t played consistent basketball in over a month. Last night, we got to see both.

Without Kawhi Leonard, on the second night of a back-to-back, against the third-place Indiana Pacers,  no-one could blame the Raptors for losing Sunday night’s contest. After an impressive win at Milwaukee, the Raptors earned some good-will.

Instead, Toronto played spectacularly. Offensively, the entire team was clicking, putting up 121 points against one of the slowest-paced, best defenses in the entire NBA. Indiana has a defensive rating of 102.9 on the season, good for second in the NBA. Last night, they posted a rating of 119.8, which would rank last in the NBA.

So what did we learn from the win? Here are my three big takeaways:

1. The Bench

This has to be the number one takeaway right? After scoring five points against the Bucks, the Raptors bench scored 52 vs the Pacers. On the second night of a back-to-back, the Raptors couldn’t rely on their starters for another monumental performance. Luckily, they didn’t have too.

The bench unit has enough talent, that Sunday’s performance should be closer to the norm, not the outlier. However, after watching the reserves struggle for half-a-season, any positive performance is a big deal.

The biggest surprise of the bench’s night was the play of Norman Powell. Powell had a team-high 23 points on 10-12 shooting! You could tell he was feeling it when he hit a corner three-point with a defender right in his mug as the shot-clock expired.

Delon Wright and Greg Monroe also had solid performances. OG Anunoby played better than his box-score indicates. With Fred VanVleet returning to the mob soon, hopefully, the bench can find consistency.

2. Hot Shooting

The Raptors outplayed the Pacers on Sunday night. They also benefitted from an extremely hot-hand. We can break down the X’s and O’s as much as we want. When a team shoots like Toronto did, more often than not, they come away with a victory.

Toronto has been on the cold-end of a shooting night often this season. Consider their performance against the Pacers a regression to the mean. The Raptors have too many good shooters to stay cold all season. Last night was an example of that.

3. Complaining about officiating

As much as we’d like to think we impact the team, fans and media have virtually no impact on a franchise’s success. However, I do think that there is a culture that can carry over from fans to media to even the team.

The Raptors constant grumbling about the officiating is extremely tiresome. The broadcast objects too often, Kyle Lowry doesn’t ever believe he has committed a foul, Nick Nurse earned a critical technical against the Nuggets which might have cost Toronto the game.

Every fanbase does it to some extent, but the Raptors feel like they bellyache more than most. There’s no Canadian conspiracy. There’s no agenda against the Raptors. Can we watch the game without talking about the officiating for once?

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