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 – Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Weird Lineups

One result of playing only eight players all night was the Toronto Raptors trotting out a smorgasbord of weird, unconventional lineups throughout the game.

Perhaps the most notable lineup decision was the dual point guard look to kick-off the game. Nearly everyone penciled in traditional shooting guard Norman Powell as the starter to begin the year, so FVV on the lineup card was a bit of a shock. 

VanVleet did start 28 games last season, however, it was never plan A. Injuries, rest-days, or other factors resulted in Fred VanVleet’s insertion into the starting lineup.

My guess is that the starting shooting guard spot will rotate throughout the year, but to be frank, it’s hard to tell with Nurse. The starting lineup did struggle for what it’s worth on Tuesday night, although that was more a result of a sloppy opening couple of minutes after an emotional ring ceremony.


Another question we asked throughout the offseason, would the Raptors play dual-centers?

Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol spent just 31 minutes on the court together during the last regular season. They shared the floor for 108 minutes during the playoffs.

The Raptors went back to that well again in game one, with the two centers playing over five minutes together last night. Toronto went -4 during that time, although five minutes isn’t enough to conclude anything.

They even went with the much-discussed, rarely used Pascal Siakam at small forward look. The floor looked crowded and sloppy during that time.

Three point guards

At one point, Nurse elected to go with Lowry, VanVleet, and Davis all on the court together. You can argue Davis is a shooting guard, fine whatever, but he sure isn’t a small forward. Toronto rolling out a three guard lineup this early in the season was a bold move. You might expect the look at some point. Game one wasn’t that point.

With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson in the doghouse and out of the rotation, Toronto doesn’t have many options. The Raptors played only two forwards last night, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam. Everyone else was either 6-foot-10 and taller or 6-foot-4 and shorter. That’s not sustainable over the course of the season.

Next. 100 Raptor facts to start the season. dark

The Raptors will need to figure some things out and tighten up some of the little areas if they want to continue to be successful this season. But they’re 1-0 after game one, and you shouldn’t ask for much more than that.