The Toronto Raptors came to play in their victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. It was a bully ball, grind it out, defensive mindset type of game which NBA fans love to see.
Sunday’s win was a very interesting game to watch for a number of reasons. After Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka went down with injuries in Friday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the depth of the Toronto Raptors was put to the test against the Lakers.
These injuries happening early in the season can be seen as a blessing and a curse. Ibaka and Lowry are great players to have on any roster and have been providing some solid minutes but this is a great way to see who can step up, deal with the pressure, and fill in the gaps that the two stars have left.
Secondly, these injuries provide fans with a chance to see what sort of depth the Toronto Raptors have. A lot of the bench players have been limited to short bursts to show off their skills. With a lot of players fighting for minutes later in the season, these next few weeks will be the chance to do just that and prove that they should be allocated a certain amount of minutes.
With Lowry down, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that all eyes will be drawn to the abilities of Fred VanVleet. With his contract expiring, these next few weeks is his chance to prove himself as a long-term starting point guard option.
As for Ibaka, There was a bit of confusion with who would step up and replace that 14 points per game off the bench. How coach Nick Nurse responded was by going deep into his bench early in the game to see how people are playing and to utilize the defensive strengths to create offense.
The game started a bit slow for the Raptors with a bit of lethargy, but as it progressed, they began to dig in defensively and used those strengths to facilitate their offense.
Overall, it was one for the books. The Raptors played a stunning defensive game and were able to limit the Lakers’ offensive abilities. So let’s see how each of the active Raptors players graded in the victory.