The Toronto Raptors are looking like their former selves after defeating the Indiana Pacers. In a game that saw 11 different Raptors get on the floor, Nick Nurse’s “next man up” mentality was huge in Toronto taking down a tough Nate Bjorkgren-coached Pacers team.
Here are a few key takeaways from the Toronto Raptors win on Sunday afternoon.
Toronto Raptors takeaways: Transition play has proven to be a huge key
Turning defense into offense was one of the biggest factors in how the Raptors were able to separate from the Pacers. The Raptors were able to force 18 turnovers while hounding the Pacers defensively. Toronto also outscored the Pacers 19-12 in fastbreak points.
A lot of credit has to go to players such as Stanley Johnson and Fred VanVleet, who were constantly pushing the tempo. They never gave the Pacers any time to breathe, and allowed the Raptors to control the game on the offensive end.
With Indiana being a great team defensively in the half-court, the Raptors playing as aggressive as they were in transition, gave Toronto easy looks without having to deal with the presence of Myles Turner. While their defensive stops didn’t always turn into points, the ceaseless pressure that was being applied was forcing Indiana to make mistakes that they typically avoid.
Toronto Raptors takeaways: Tremendous defense on Indiana Pacers stars
The Raptors have always taken pride in their defensive abilities, and it was on full display Sunday afternoon. Toronto, as a collective, was able to not just slow down Indiana’s two offensive stars, but shut them down.
The Raptors were able to hold Brogdon to 12 points on an inefficient 5-22 shooting from the field, and Sabonis managed just 10 points on a season low 1-10 shooting from the field. It’s one thing being able to hold Sabonis to 10 percent shooting, but also holding Brogdon to 23 percent shooting is an extremely impressive feat to accomplish.
It was in the final moments of the game where Toronto’s defense truly stepped up. Up only 1 point with 30 seconds left, VanVleet played extraordinary defense, forcing a shot clock violation, which was one of the many game-saving plays the Raptors made within the final seconds. Stanley Johnson and Chris Boucher tallied a couple of blocks against Sabonis to solidify the win in Toronto’s favor. The defense that has made Toronto so dominant of late is starting to help the Raptors claw back into the playoff picture.
Toronto Raptors takeaways: OG Anunoby showed glimpses of stardom
Without having Lowry and Siakam active, it meant that OG Anunoby was going to get more touches throughout the game. A past habit of OG’s was that he passed up on what could’ve been an easy scoring opportunity. That wasn’t the case against the Pacers, as Anunoby took matters into his own hands, carrying the offensive load for the Raptors.
Anunoby finished with 30 points, two shy of his career-high, eight rebounds, and an outstanding five steals. OG displayed all the improvements he made to his offensive game in the offseason. Instead of just settling for catch-and-shoot threes, he thrived the most using his size in the post.
OG used his strength to his advantage on switches, even when matched up with players like Sabonis and Turner. The Raptors are going to have to feed the hot hand, and not drift away from going to OG, when Lowry and Siakam come back. Anunoby, who was named our player of the week here at Raptors Rapture has the potential to be a star, and if he can consistently tap into what he’s capable of, Toronto will be a scary team for the remainder of the season.