Toronto Raptors

Eight thoughts as Raptors extend winning streak to five behind season-high 33 points for Fred VanVleet

The Raptors just keep on rolling.

Toronto made it five straight wins in completing a perfect road trip with a win against the Washington Wizards.

The 109-100 final score improves the Raptors to 6-3 on the season despite the absence of Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes.

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Let's jump to some thoughts from the latest Toronto win.

1. Fred takes over

By his own admission, VanVleet's role within the offence has chopped and changed through the early weeks of the season.

The veteran guard was in an aggressive scoring mood in this one, finishing with a season-high 33 points on 13-for-22 shooting while also dishing out six assists.

"Again, every night I'm trying to take whatever the defence gives," VanVleet said postgame. "Some nights it's giving it up to others, tonight it was getting my own. I was able to knock some down."

VanVleet was able to find his preferred matchup with ease against the Wizards, oftentimes finding space in the midrange.

"A lot of defences give up that shot so it's something I've been working on," he said.

Without Barnes and Siakam, the Raps were looking for some added scoring punch and it was the perfect night for Fred to have his biggest night of the young season.

2. Road warriors

The win against Washington completed a perfect three game road trip but it also improved to team to 4-0 away from Canada on the season.

The blistering start away from home is a franchise record, with the opportunity to extend that mark coming in Boston and Philadelphia after a two-game set at Scotiabank Arena.

Impressive stuff.

3. Precious with the power

There's been plenty of discussion around Precious Achiuwa's place in the Raptors starting lineup.

With Khem Birch and Chris Boucher missing the season opener, it made sense for Achiuwa to man the nominal five position on the back of strong preseason play.

It's been a diffiuclt few games for the new Raptor, with Birch joining the starting five for the beginning of the second half in what could be a sign of things to come.

Achiuwa did provide the highlight of the night late in the third quarter, with a powerful one handed throwdown coming off a nifty dribble move on the perimeter.

"Did you see that dunk?" VanVleet said postgame.

Achiuwa looked hesitant at times, with VanVleet emphasising the importance of sticking together with the young group.

"Just staying with him and keep instilling that confidence in him. There's going to be ups and downs, especially for a young player, but we're all in it together and we want to be there for our brothers when things aren't going there way so it was nice to see him bounce back in the second half and have a couple of big plays. We're going to need him going forward."

4. Lacking bench punch

Not to over do it, but once again, it's fair to say the Raptors are playing shorthanded at the moment.

Add in the fact that Goran Dragic is racking up DNP-CD's like they are going out of fashion and the Toronto bench is left a little thin.

The Raptors bench were outscored 44-19 in this one, with Boucher, Birch and Dalano Banton providing an energy spark rather than any real scoring punch.

When Barnes and Siakam return there will be some decisions to be made for Nurse, but one player who could provide some buckets off the bench is Svi Mykhailiuk.

5. Svi spreads the floor

Mykhailiuk made his second straight start in replacing Barnes and made the most of his minutes.

Finishing with 15 points on just eight shots, Mykhailiuk fits like a glove as a guy who can carry some ball handling and also spread the floor.

Perhaps the most impressive number was the fact he got to the line for six free-throw attempts.

His ability to provide some creation will become even more valuable when he returns to a role off the bench with the second unit.

6. Raps revenge game

Toronto are 6-3 overall this season, but it feels like a long time ago they left opening night feeling disappointed in the return to the North.

Washington cruised to the 98-83 win on that night, with the Raptors offence sputtering out the gate to shoot 30 percent from the floor and 20 percent from long range.

"We're just working, man. We're working and getting better," VanVleet said. "We didn't really give them a good look the first game of the season for a bunch of different reasons but we're just growing. The trust is building so we gotta take these and enjoy them."

7. Banton is intriguing

If I had to describe Dalano Banton in one word it would be energy.

He's a really fun player to watch. He seems a little rough around the edges, sometimes a little rushed and out of control, but most of the time something is happening when he is on the floor.

The numbers won't jump off the page if you purely look at the box score. Five points, three rebounds and two steals.

But the rebounds and steals generate plays that stick with you. When he gets the ball he is all gas and no breaks, which again, can be a little wild, but it's a fun ride.

This Raptors team is characterised by their ability to cause chaos defensively with their length and versatility across all five positions. It feels like Banton is in just the right place to have an impact.

8. What's next?

Toronto return home to face the impressive Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are 5-4 on the season having just handled the Portland Trail Blazers at home.

The game is slated for Friday night with tip-off at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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