That'll do it for the scrimmages.
On Tuesday, the Toronto Raptors played their final scrimmage ahead of the season restart. Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 17 points in his 25 minutes of play, but it wasn't enough to defeat the Phoenix Suns.
Again, the end result doesn't mean much considering these scrimmages won't count towards either team's wins and losses - they're tune-ups ahead of the eight seeding games, which begin this week - but that doesn't mean there isn't anything we can learn from them.
With that in mind, here are some quick observations from Toronto's last scrimmage...
1. The injury report
Prior to the game, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said that Oshae Brissett and Patrick McCaw would not play because they are both "banged up."
The good news is everyone else played for the Raptors, including Fred VanVleet, who left Toronto's last game with a banged left knee. VanVleet ended up playing 23 minutes, finishing with 13 points and three assists.
I guess we can assume that VanVleet will be good to go for the first seeding game later this week.
2. A glimpse of the Jumbo lineup
It didn't take Nurse long to go to the Jumbo lineup that we've heard so much about over the last couple of weeks. While the Raptors started the game with Kyle Lowry, VanVleet, Siakam, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, OG Anunoby entered the game at the 7:36 mark in the first quarter for VanVleet.
Lowry-Anunoby-Siakam-Ibaka-Gasol is not a lineup we've seen much this season. According to NBA.com, the five of them have logged a total of 30 minutes over the course of three games. They've been absolute dynamite together, scoring at a rate of 120.0 points per 100 possessions on one end of the court while giving up only 92.2 points per 100 possessions on the other, but there's only so much to take away from that given the small same size.
I'm not sure we learned anything more about how viable it is from the few minutes we saw it in this game. We know spacing is going to be a little more cramped with Lowry and Siakam being the only volume 3-point shooters, but they have the means to make up for it with Gasol's passing, Anunoby's improved playmaking and Ibaka's shooting. It's more about the five of them getting some run together so that it isn't alien to them if the Raptors need to go to it in the playoffs against bigger teams, namely the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers.
3. Pascal Siakam showing off from midrange
I wrote about Siakam's midrange game recently.
The short and quick version in case you missed it: Siakam has taken a decent amount of shots from midrange this season, but he's shooting only 32.1 percent from that distance. If he does become a more reliable midrange scorer, it could open up the rest of his game because teams only really have to defend him at the 3-point line and in the paint right now. It becomes most noticeable when he goes up against elite defenders such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis because they have the speed to keep up with him off the dribble and the length to make life difficult for him at the rim.
That's why it was encouraging to see him drain a couple of midrange shots in the first quarter of this game, the first of which was a silky smooth step back on Cameron Johnson.
I'm not expecting Siakam to turn into DeMar DeRozan or anything, but he clearly has it in his game to become a better midrange scorer. His handle has improved tremendously since joining the Raptors and his size makes him a tough cover because he has the length to shoot over most defenders.
If Siakam does improve from midrange, there won't be many holes left in his game, at least when it comes to scoring.
4. OG Anunoby continues to shine
It was another active game from Anunoby.
Not only did he knock down a couple of 3s and put the ball on the deck several times, Anunoby came up with several big-time plays on the defensive end, the most impressive of which came in the second quarter when he blocked a pair of shots on back-to-back possessions.
🚫G pic.twitter.com/r0jKpqNTp1- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) July 28, 2020
Anunoby's play has been a real bright spot for the Raptors in these scrimmages. Now let's see if it'll carry over into the seeding games and the playoffs.
5. There's still room on Mikal Bridges island
Bridges was his usual disruptive self on defence in this one, blocking a shot and coming up with a couple of steals, but it was on offence where he shined, particularly in the first half.
In 19 minutes of play, Bridges led the Suns in scoring at the break with 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the field and 2-for-3 from 3-point range. I know it's only a scrimmage, but it wasn't far off his career-high of 26 points, which he set earlier this season in 40 minutes of play. He was shooting with confidence and even had a couple of nifty finishes around the basket, both of which are promising signs for the 23-year-old.
.@mikal_bridges is having a GAME! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/OGzY6Yj4m9- Phoenix Suns (@Suns) July 28, 2020
It's no secret that Bridges is tailor-made for today's NBA as a defender. His size and length give him the ability to defend multiple positions and match up with the NBA's best wings. (He had a really strong showing in Phoenix's scrimmage against the Boston Celtics earlier this week in which he limited Jayson Tatum to 16 points on 6-for-17 shooting). If he becomes even average on offence - Bridges is averaging 8.7 points per game this season and the bulk of his scoring has come on assisted baskets - his value is going to go through the roof.
Performances like this make me believe he will, so I'm going to jump on the bandwagon while there's still space.
6. Kyle Lowry can't stop, won't stop drawing charges
Another game, another charge drawn by Lowry.
There is not a single basketball setting that KLow will not draw a charge in pic.twitter.com/xr06qtEccF- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) July 28, 2020
By my count, Lowry drew four charges over the three scrimmages. Incredible.
7. The most we've seen from Marc Gasol yet
Gasol missed the first scrimmage for matchup reasons and played only 10 minutes in the second one.
He got a little more burn in this one, totalling 19 minutes. He finished with only five points, nine rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal, but it was a very Gasol-like performance. The ball moved well on offence with him on the court, he provided valuable spacing on offence with his 3-point shooting and his presence in the paint prevented several shots at the basket.
The stare 👀 pic.twitter.com/Tn4E5btiIn- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) July 28, 2020
I'm still skeptical about the whole "Prime Marc" thing, but the Raptors don't need him to turn the clock back to 2017 for him to be effective as they look to defend their title. As long as he's healthy, they should be in good shape moving forward, especially if Ibaka can continue to play as well as he has in these scrimmages.
8. Devin Booker teaches Pascal Siakam a lesson
Booker only scored nine points, but two of those points came in rather impressive fashion.
😤 D-BOOK LEFT-HANDED HAMMER 😤#WholeNewGame pic.twitter.com/epkAn2s91j- NBA (@NBA) July 28, 2020
9. What's next?
Following their three scrimmages, the Raptors will play their first of eight seeding games on Saturday, Aug. 1.
Their opponent? The Los Angeles Lakers, who the Raptors have played once this season in what was a thriller.
The game will start at 8:30 p.m. and will air on Sportsnet ONE. Catch you then.
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