On Monday night, several things felt good if you’re a Raptors fan:
- The team was back home to play in Toronto for the first time in a long, long time.
- The Raptors blew up the doors of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Now this is only the preseason and it will be a long and bumpy road ahead, but there were encouraging signs from the Raptors in their first show outing this season.
Here are four stats that stood out in Monday’s win.
100 per cent – OG Anunoby went from 3 for 3 to 3 points. He finished with 21 points, a team high, showing his improvements at mid and long distance.
Two of his three 3 pointers were triple catch-and-shoot, which he is adept at. (Anunoby shot 42.4 percent on a catch-and-shoot 3 last season). The pull-ups three, however, were a bit of a problem, as he converted just 20.0% of those opportunities last season. Seeing him go into his bag and score a three on the dribble midway through the third quarter could give fans confidence that he can improve in that area.
29 quick break points – Toronto managed to score 29 quick break points in Monday’s win. In 2018-19 and 2019-20, the Raptors were one of the league’s top teams in transition, placing in the top five in both seasons. Last year they were still in the top 10, but they didn’t put the same level of fear in opposing teams as in the past.
For a team that will struggle to find baskets in the half court some nights, it is important for them to get out and run when they have the chance. According to NBA statistics, they played at a 107.5 pace against the 76ers, which is faster than any team played in the NBA last year. The pace in the preseason is a bit messy – it will slow down once the games start to count – but running is something Toronto will need to do this season to make sure it maximizes its attacking potential.
60 bench points – Getting that level of production from the Second Unit isn’t going to happen every night, but if the Raptors bench can deliver a punch, it’ll be something they just didn’t have last year. The Raptors finished last in bench scoring last season with just 30.0 points per game coming from second unit.
When the team is healthy, all signs point to bench production increasing.
33 team assists – That’s a huge number for any team. Last season, the Raptors placed 20th in the league in assists per game (24.1). Injury played a role in keeping that number as low as it used to be, but when the 2021-22 version of the Raptors is perfectly healthy, they should be able to selflessly move the ball and find eyes open to each other.