Raptors: 3 lessons we learned from Toronto’s first 3 games

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 22: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors and OG Anunoby #3 defend Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 22: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors and OG Anunoby #3 defend Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
TORONTO, ON – OCTOBER 20: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors have taken the court three times in the 2021-22 NBA season, and the results have been volatile, to say the least, thanks to a very frantic and chaotic style of play. Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes have helped this team play well on defense, but that hasn’t translated into wins.

2021-22 started with a deflating loss to the Wizards on opening night in which Toronto was barely in it and trailed by as much as 29 points in the third quarter. This took the air out of Scotiabank Arena during what the first NBA regular season game in Toronto in 600 days.

That followed with a trip to Boston, where the Raptors beat the odds almost as badly as they beat Boston, outscoring the Celtics 64-36 in the second half on their way to a 115-83 triumph.

And then there was the 103-95 loss to the Dallas Mavericks back home on Saturday. Toronto was competitive but playing on the second night of a back-to-back and facing one of the league’s stronger teams, fell short.

The Raptors are 1-2 with 79 games to play, so it goes without saying that it’s very, very early. To make anything out of the first three games is probably to make too much out of them. At the same time, there are lessons to take from every moment on the hardwood.

3 things we’ve learned about the Toronto Raptors after 3 games.

1. The scoring will be inconsistent all season long.

The totals from Toronto’s first three games tell the story, as 83 and 95-point outputs were sandwiched around a 115-point outburst.

With so many new additions and young players dotting the roster, and perhaps more significantly the absence of Toronto’s floor general for the better part of a decade in Kyle Lowry, this team is going to have its ups and downs on the offensive end of the floor.

To that end, the Raptors notably had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2/1 against Boston, compared to a near-even split in their two losses. Toronto scored 27 points off turnovers in the Boston win, and just 20 points off turnovers combined against Dallas and Washington.

The Raptors scored 58 points in the paint against the Celtics, 20 more than they averaged in the two losses. Toronto had a season-high 65% of their field-goal attempts come from inside the arc at Boston.

The Toronto Raptors will improve when Pascal Siakam returns.

The Raptors will certainly benefit from the eventual return of Siakam. The All-Star will be the focal point of Toronto’s offense, giving the Raptors a legit scorer, but that will also present a challenge for coach Nick Nurse to maintain the offensive dynamics and chemistry that the Raptors will develop over the interim.

As might have been predicted, Toronto’s defense, anchored by lockdown artist OG Anunoby, has been more reliable. The Raptors have already kept two of their opponents under 100 points, something they managed in only seven of 72 games last season and achieved in back-to-back games just once.

As of the conclusion of Saturday’s games, Toronto boasted the fourth-lowest points against average in the NBA (94.7 per game).