Five takeaways from Toronto Raptors opening day victory over Pelicans

Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Kyle Lowry (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors started the season off with a victory, defeating the New Orleans Pelicans in overtime. What were the five biggest takeaways from game one?

82-0 is still possible. The Toronto Raptors have played one game in this young NBA season, and so far, they’re still perfect. Well, perfect might be a strong word as it took every ounce of effort and an overtime performance to beat an undermanned New Orleans Pelicans team in game one of the season.

The game started out poorly, as the Raptors, perhaps still teary-eyed from their ring ceremony, looked sloppy. There were turnovers, poor defensive rotations, and a Kyle Lowry shot that was so bad it may have permanently damaged the backboard. The Pelicans jumped out to an 11-point lead before you could say “the defending champion T….”

But as the game wore on, the Raptors slowly closed the deficit. New Orleans was running hockey-style line changes, rotating five players at a time. The Raptors, meanwhile, stuck with just eight players. That short-rotation helped them find their rhythm.  It might be sustainable in a late January or early February contest, but it worked Tuesday night.

Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam both played out of their mind as Toronto overcame rough shooting performances from two of their key veterans, Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol. Siakam fouled out of the game with what was probably a charge but was a tough call to foul out the game’s best player. Despite his absence, Toronto found themselves in a last-second battle.

With just seconds remaining, after a critical Toronto stop, the game was tied; the Raptors maintained possession. Nick Nurse called a timeout and drew up a beautiful set…. wait, no he actually drew up an isolation for Norman Powell. Powell failed to initiate anything and settled for a deep, deep triple; it clanked off the back of the rim.

And yet, after starting slow, after missing a last-second shot, and without their best player, the Raptors still found a way to pull out a victory. They dominated overtime and won 130-122.

While the victory was important, what else did we learn from the first game of the season?