The 2021 preseason is in the books for the Toronto Raptors, with a 117-105 loss to the Miami Heat wrapping up proceedings ahead of regular season tip-off.
Nick Nurse had the full compliment of stars on hand, though, as is always the case in preseason the minutes were managed with Pascal Siakam leading the team with just 28 minutes of court time.
Kyle Lowry made his preseason debut, Chris Boucher displayed fine shooting touch and a piece of Raptors history has made its way to Tampa Bay.
Catch up with all the takeaways from tonight's game right here!
Kyle Lowry doesn't believe in rust
Kyle Lowry entered the Raptors lineup for the first time in the 2021 preseason and wasted absolutely no time hitting top gear.
The first bucket of the game came on a Lowry triple just 74 seconds into the game and it was just the beginning for the veteran guard.
All up, Lowry saw 27 minutes of court time, pouring in 25 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the floor and a scorching 6-for-10 from beyond the arc. Lowry will once again form a formidable backcourt tandem with Fred VanVleet, who struggled in this one to finish with just seven points on 0-for-7 from three.
The adoring home crowd in Toronto was missing, but it was still the same old Kyle, who is set to enter season nine with the franchise.
KLow's back pic.twitter.com/PSqAbLjTyu- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 19, 2020
Raps let it fly from the outside
In 2019-20 the Raptors ranked sixth in the NBA for 3-point attempts per game with 37.
Entering tonight's game that number had skyrocketed to a league leading 48 per game across two preseason contests and showed no signs of a decline against the Miami Heat.
Launching a staggering 59 attempts from deep, the Raptors offence was largely perimeter based, with Siakam, Lowry and VanVleet combining for 24 of those looks.
Whether the increased numbers translate to the regular season remains to be seen, but to this point, no team in the league is launching from deep like Toronto.
Boucher searches for consistency
Chris Boucher broke into the Raptors rotation on a regular basis in 2019-20, making 62 appearances and seeing 13.2 minutes per game.
With the loss of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, Boucher figures to see his role increase further this season as a back up big man to Aron Baynes. At 6'9", Boucher is undersized for a traditional five, though, we know Nick Nurse is far from a traditionalist when it comes to his coaching.
.@chrisboucher: Shooter pic.twitter.com/xZ1RCVsm28- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 19, 2020
Averaging 6.6 points per game last season, Boucher was a streaky shooter from the outside, connecting on just 32 percent of his long range attempts. 1-for-3 from range in his two prior preseason games, the 27-year-old broke out in the first half of this game, drilling his first three attempts from beyond the arc.
Boucher finished the night with a preseason high of 11 points, finishing 3-for-4 from deep.
Championship banner hangs in Tampa
As the Raptors attempt to make their temporary home in Tampa Bay as familiar as possible, an important part of history hangs in the rafters of Amalie Arena.
A replica of the 2019 Championship banner will be on full display during 'home' games, with head coach Nick Nurse certainly approving.
"It certainly gives you a boost, just a little bit of juice or energy or whatever and that [banner] was about the second thing I noticed when I walked in," Nurse told reporters . "I was like, 'Hey, the banner.' it's kinda cool and you get into a conversation like will they leave it here and they probably should because we're gonna commemorate the year and all that stuff, but it's nice to have the touches of home."
😍 #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/HHUk2n67Fp- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 19, 2020
A limited number on fans where on hand for the game, with COVID restrictions and social distancing regulations in place.
It's the real deal now for the Raptors, with their regular season campaign tipping off on Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.
The game will be held at Amalie Arena in Tampa, tip is set for 6:30pm ET.
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