Three takeaways from Toronto Raptors narrow victory over Orlando Magic

Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors escaped with a victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night. What did we learn from the nail-biting win?

In the NBA, all wins count the same. The isn’t collegiate football or basketball. There are no committees to determine the Toronto Raptors’ fate. At the end of the year, when we look at the final standings, this victory won’t be judged by its beauty. It won’t be given any style points. Thank goodness.

Toronto escaped with a hideous win against an undermanned Orlando Magic team playing without their best player, Nikola Vucevic. The team’s second option, Aaron Gordon, made his return to the starting lineup and looked incredibly rusty in the process. The Magic didn’t play well in this game. Luckily for Toronto, the Raptors only needed to play slightly better.

After falling behind by seven during the first half, Toronto managed to turn it on defensively after the break. The Raptors held the Magic to 36 second-half points, including just 12 in a critical third quarter.

Defense, along with a spectacular performance from Norman Powell, allowed Toronto to take care of business and pick up a win, no matter how ugly it looked.

So what did we learn from this game? There were a few key takeaways:

Norman Powell

We have to start here. Norman Powell scored 33 points on 12-18 shooting, including a red-hot 5-8 from beyond the arc. In a game where points were harder to come by than water in the desert, those 33 points were even more impactful than the box score indicates.

Powell scored 26 of his 33 points in the second half, going 9-11 in the process. He was launching from deep, attacking the rim, and getting to the line. He was the complete scoring package against the Magic, showing off his full array of skills.

Will this breakout performance lead to more consistency from Powell moving forward? Probably not. Powell’s scoring bonanza was likely a singular event, independent of future and past performances. We’ve seen “breakout” games from Powell before; eventually, he regresses to his former self.

At this point, we more-or-less know what Norman Powell is. He’s a microwave scorer, who can provide some much-needed punch off the bench at times. Enjoy him for what he brings, rather than expecting more.

Second place!

The Toronto Raptors win, along with a Boston Celtics loss, placed Toronto in sole possession of the two-seed in the Eastern Conference. It’s early to start watching the standings, but it’s fun, so let’s do it anyway.

Right now, there appears to be a clear mark between the sixth and seventh seeds in the East. Indiana, a team that’s been playing well without Victor Oladipo represents a scary opponent who has a chance to win in round one. Whoever ends up earning the seventh-seed, whether it’s Brooklyn, Orlando, or someone else, doesn’t look nearly as formidable.

Getting the two, rather than the three, seed might be a big deal. — The one seed would also be nice, but keeping up with Milwaukee seems like a near-impossible task.

The five seed (and losing homecourt advantage) is also just a two-game losing streak away. Boston, Miami, and Philly are all nipping at the Raptors heels and none appear to be fading anytime soon.

Last season, the Raptors just wanted to enter the postseason healthy, regardless of standings or record. This year, seeding appears to be much more competitive and important. It should be a fun race to watch all year.

Forward play

One of the strengths of the Toronto Raptors is their two incredibly talented, efficient young forwards. OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam manning the small and power forward positions gives Toronto an advantage on most nights.

Well, they certainly did not do that on Friday night. The two players combined to shoot 5-27 from the field, including 1-14 in the second half. Defensively they were solid and they made a few plays for others, but again, 5-27.

The Magic defense is a tough matchup for the Raptors offense. But unless Orlando can find a way to generate points throughout this long NBA season, it probably won’t matter. The Toronto Raptors and Orland Magic don’t play again till March, although this pairing has the potential to be a first-round playoff matchup.

Next. Fred VanVleet is the Raptors future at point guard. dark

Bonus take: The Magic alternate uniforms are hideous

Orlando has some of the best looking retro uniforms in the NBA. The blue or black old school uniforms with pinstripes are a sight to behold. So please, Nike, can we do away with these discount looking, off-brand Halloween uniforms?