The stands empty but the group fills up. This is the paradox of the Raptors season. The Canadian franchise must evolve behind closed doors for a few days, while its best players are finally starting to find their way back to court. Cruel for the fans then.
Moreover, as was the case in the victory against the Knicks on Sunday, have the Canadiens already fielded their best eight players (in terms of playing time) this season? “I don’t remember, no”, answers Nick Nurse at SportsNet. And for good reason since it was the first time. “That’s why it was hard to remember. “
Between the isolation and the passages through the infirmary, the coach of the Raptors had never managed to have a more or less complete group. The proof: Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr, OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes had only evolved 50 minutes together in 32 matches.
To make up for lost time, the technician therefore launched these five (for the fourth time only) from the first seconds of the game.
“I am always open concerning our five major”, confirms Nick Nurse at The Athletic. ” We’ll see. It won’t be like that every night when the group is full. But I hope that this formation will give us our best defensive face, especially at the end of the match. If we can create chemistry, we will be a strong defense. This is our goal. “
“We will need time to be at the necessary level, but we hope to gain momentum by April and May”
Faced with a New York team deprived of Julius Randle and very muddled in attack, and with a prestigious spectator, Masai Ujiri, in the empty stands, the defensive work of Toronto (which requires great effort) was facilitated. But it is promising for the future. What if the Raptors’ season finally begins, in those early days of 2022?
“Honestly, we are confident with our group, with our six, seven or eight best players, since the start of the season”, says Fred VanVleet. “I liked our state of mind, our chemistry, our enthusiasm during this part. We will need time to be at the necessary level, but we hope to gain momentum by April and May. This is our goal. We want to start the year with everyone and play good basketball. If we continue like this, we will be a difficult team to beat. “
The 2019 champion can be optimistic since he and his teammates are admittedly only 16 wins for 17 losses, but the franchise is in 10th place in the East, just three wins behind the Cavaliers’ fifth place. All this while having had major headcount concerns.
What to dream of a much happier second part of the season with the playoffs at the end …
|Gary Trent, Jr.||30||34.1||41.9||37.7||84.6||0.4||2.6||3.0||2.1||0.9||2.0||0.3||2.3||16.2|