Thursday night concluded the Toronto Raptors preseason when they defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 134-119.
The Raptors advanced to 4-1 in a successful preseason, while the Pelicans fell to 0-5.
A night that started with the announcement of just about every key player resting for the Raptors turned into a grind-it-out win for a group of players that are fighting to establish themselves as NBA players. Here are the key takeaways from Thursday's W...
No starters, no problem
This actually goes beyond the starters, too. The Raptors went into this game with only their reserves and still found a way to defeat New Orleans, playing with its full rotation. While it's already known the Raptors have one of the best benches in the league, Thursday proved that the bench may go deeper than expected. They had seven different players score in double figures, lighting up any unit the Pelicans put on the floor.
Pascal Siakam played phenomenally, C.J. Miles showed he'll be a viable bench scorer again and OG Anunoby continued to pick up right where he left off last season. An even brighter spot comes from Malachi Richardson, who stepped up with increased playing time, scoring 21 points in 27 minutes of play. Yes, it's the preseason, but this is a tremendous outing by the Raptors reserves to pull off a gutsy win over a team that made the playoffs in the gruelling Western Conference a season ago.
Pascal Siakam is the real deal
If you were not already sold on the Raptors' young forward going into this game, you will be now. Siakam spent a majority of the game going against likely MVP candidate Anthony Davis and he still dominated. Siakam's play extended beyond the 21 points and 11 rebounds as he continued to make things happen off the dribble, dishing out six assists and once again flashing the open-floor playmaking that's been one of this team's biggest storylines throughout the preseason. Davis played 32 minutes in this contest and Siakam brought it to him all night long.
Take a look at this video of him taking Davis off the dribble in isolation:
ISO @pskills43 pic.twitter.com/kbJ4FAJOxN- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 12, 2018
It's an impressive take against anybody let alone in isolation against one of the league's top defenders. He battled with him on the boards and in the paint, too. Siakam was incredible in this contest, using this last preseason game to send a message to head coach Nick Nurse that he's ready to step up for Toronto this season.
3-point shooting continues
The Raptors have been letting it fly from long range this preseason and tonight was no different. You could even say three-point shooting made the difference. For the majority of the game, the Raptors and Pelicans were even in field goals made, but Toronto held the lead due to their ability to knock down threes. They shot 14-for-32 from beyond the arc for an impressive 43.8 percent as a team. It seemed that every time the Pelicans started to cut into their lead, a different player was burying another back-breaking three.
Not a single player on the Raptors hesitated to shoot from long range. In fact, there were only two players (Greg Monroe and Eric Moreland) that checked in for Toronto that did not attempt at least one three. Nurse has stated that he wants this team to shoot more threes this year and if they continue to do it at this successful rate, it will bode well for the Raptors this season.
Tough decisions on the horizon
With this being the last game of their preseason, it will be time for the Raptors to make the final roster selections.
They currently have 20 players on their training camp roster and will have to trim that to 15 by Monday at 5 p.m. eastern time. With about 13 of the 15 roster spots locked up, tonight served as the final opportunity for some of the players on the fringe to make the cut.
Kay Felder, Kyle Collinsworth, Deng Adel, Eric Moreland, Jordan Loyd and Chris Boucher are among the names to keep an eye out for to take the final spots on the Raptors regular season roster.