Toronto Raptors: Serge Ibaka grinds to earn player of the week

Toronto Raptors - Serge Ibaka (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Serge Ibaka (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Every Sunday we bring you the Toronto Raptors player of the week. This week belongs to Serge Ibaka, who has been solid during the last four games.

The Toronto Raptors almost had themselves a perfect week as a Jeremy Lamb last-second heave simultaneously shatters the hearts of all of Toronto. But still, with just five games to it’s wonderful to see the team go 3-1 no matter the opponent. It’s also encouraging to see the whole team playing well, especially with Serge Ibaka now helping lead the bench.

With the Marc Gasol starting experience still underway Ibaka has been playing on the bench and it’s nice to see him consistently performing well. His strong bench play is going to be needed if the Raptors hope to make a deep playoff push. More play like this week will be expected.

Serge Ibaka’s week

The Raptors would have had a perfect week had it not been for a Sunday night, long-range, buzzer-beating three from Jeremy Lamb. The game was one filled with ups and downs for the Raptors as they got their lunch served to them during the second and third quarters, But the Raptors did well to come back after being down 95-83 coming into the fourth quarter.

The game even seemed over as Pascal Siakam made a hustle play, poking the ball loose with about five seconds left on the clock.

The game against the Hornets was Ibaka’s worst of the week, only managing to score 11 points while grabbing one rebound. Ibaka only played 18 minutes and felt like a negative for most of the night in his new bench role.

Tuesday night against the Chicago Bulls was a much different story for the Raptors as they made quick work of the visiting team. A surprising quick start was the key for the Raptors, it even allowed for coach Nick Nurse to give his starters some rest. The Bulls were quite understaffed making for an even easier than expected contest.

Ibaka had a strong performance thanks to the extra time due to resting the starters. He scored 16 bench points while grabbing eight rebounds. He also played rim protector while blocking two shots. He also showed Coach Nurse that more minutes resulted in a better performance.

Thursday night against the New York Knicks was the fourth and final ‘Knicks blowout’ of the year for the Raptors as they stomped their way through New York 117-92. Yet another quick start led to a Raptors victory as Siakam took charge with Kawhi Leonard on the bench. Although, it was yet another team effort as the Raptors flexed their muscle while earning their second victory of the week.

Although Ibaka wasn’t a standout tonight he was still a very solid bench contribution. A good 5-9 resulted in ten points while also managing to grab ten rebounds. While playing 24 minutes Ibaka battled to bench-high +11.

The Raptors rolled into Chicago for the series sweep of the Bulls. It was more of the same as the Raptors had a second-quarter eruption going for 41 points. The 124-101 victory brought the series total to a score of +77 for the Raptors. Ibaka got his first start of the week and dominated.

The big man paired well with his new counterpart Marc Gasol, scoring 23 points while also grabbing 12 rebounds, three offensive. Ibaka was also very efficient going 10-16 from the field. This was Ibaka’s best performance this week, dominating throughout. Although he played well it should be noted that Ibaka struggled from the three-point line going 1-5.

Who missed the Cut?

Back-up point guard Fred Van Vleet performed very well this week, even earning a few spots starts against the Knicks and the Bulls. His best performance coming against the Bulls while scoring 23 points.

The rest are the usual suspects of Kyle Lowry, Siakam and Leonard. Gasol should also be mentioned for a few solid games.

All in all the team looked solid and only lost out of chance. Even if the opponents are subpar it’s nice to see some W’s leading into the playoffs. Hopefully, both the Raptors and Ibaka can keep the solid play rolling.

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