The NBA is back in Toronto!!
For the first time since February, 2020, Scotiabank Arena hosted a Raptors home game, with thousands of enthusiastic fans in the stands.
It was an impressive start to the preseason campaign for Nick Nurse's squad, with the Raptors running away with an easy 123-107 win.
Let's jump to some of the talking points from the night beginning with the Raptors' prized early draft pick.
Honestly, we're just happy to be home. #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/32Eqx8QRBn- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 5, 2021
One big takeaway
This game felt like the unveiling of the future in Toronto.
Of course, Fred VanVleet was running the point, but it was the play of Scottie Barnes that brought the intrigue pregame and ultimately would have left Toronto fans feeling optimistic about what's to come.
With Pascal Siakam on the shelf for the opening weeks of the season, Barnes is expected to step into a prominent role, with the 20-year-old wasting no time flashing his athleticism, size and passing ability in his preseason debut.
First, he found Goran Dragic for the veteran's first basket as a Raptor.
First bucket hits different this time around pic.twitter.com/1WXe4e3mSP- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 4, 2021
Then he decided to take former Raptor Danny Green to the basket for a powerful dunk of his own.
You already know the vibes @ScottBarnes561 pic.twitter.com/x2QSt6uNu0- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 4, 2021
All up, Barnes finished 13 points, nine rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks in a stat-stuffing opening performance. Not bad at all.
- The wait continues for Danny Green! Green made his return to Toronto but is still waiting for his 2019 championship ring. The season shutdown in 2020 and then the relocation to Tampa Bay in 2021 has left the popular former Raptor waiting to collect his championship momento. Philadelphia is scheduled to visit Scotiabank Arena on December 28 in what could be a special night for the veteran sharpshooter.
- Goran Dragic made his Toronto debut, with the crafty guard easing his way into the preseason. Dragic tallied eight points in 16 minutes while starting in the backcourt alongside VanVleet.
- With Siakam and Boucher set to miss the entire preseason and potentially beyond, Precious Achiuwa looms as one player who could absorb a significant role. Impressing with the Miami Heat in stages last season before representing Nigeria at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Achiuwa's intensity around the basket stood out. He finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks on the night.
Some @PreciousAchiuwa content for y'all, @NigeriaBasket pic.twitter.com/dbXgiqsHqo- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 5, 2021
- The Raptors were running!! Toronto ranked ninth for fast break points per game last season by averaging 13.7 per night. They dominated the transition game in this one, outscoring Philadelphia 29-13 in that catagory. It was preseason, so take it with a grain of salt, but an uptempo offence feels well suited to this roster, particularly when Siakam returns to the fold.
- We haven't mentioned OG Anunoby in this report yet, but the fifth-year man played his role. Leading all scorers with 21 points, Anunoby buried all three of his tries from long range during his 24 minutes of court time. You guys have heard a break-out year might be on the cards before, right?
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