Toronto Raptors

Nine thoughts from the Toronto Raptors season opening loss to the Washington Wizards

Scottie Barnes (Toronto Raptors)
(NBA Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors couldn't get over the line in their long-awaited return to Scotiabank Arena, going down to the Washington Wizards 98-83 in their season opener.

With plenty of new faces on the roster, the young Raptors trailed for most of the game and despite a late rally in the fourth quarter where they got it to within 10 points, their poor shooting caught up with them.

For more on this game, we have you covered with some thoughts below.

1. Scottie Barnes is as advertised

The No.4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft was inserted into the starting lineup and made his presence felt from the jump.

The 20-year-old was aggressive looking for his shot as he attacked the rim, not settling for jumpers and while he only finished with one assist, his passing really stood out as he facilitated the offence for stretches at the elbow.

...Not to mention this skyhook!

He finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, one assist and one steal, and was tied with Fred VanVleet for the most field goals on the night, hitting 5-of-13.

It wsn't all smooth sailing for the rookie, who had three turnovers and three fouls in the first half alone, but as the game wore on, he showed flashes of his elite potential

Until Pascal Siakam returns from injury, it will be interesting to see if Nick Nurse sticks with Barnes in the starting lineup.

2. Dalano Banton's dazzling debut

The first-ever Canadian drafted by the Raptors entered the game with 25 seconds left in the third quarter to a big applause from the home crowd and he nearly blew the lid off the arena just seconds later.

With his first shot of the game, he connected on a half-court shot at the buzzer, that cut the deficit to 81-59 heading into the fourth.

In his 12 minutes on court, he recorded seven points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal on 3-of-4 from the field.

His one assist found a cutting Chris Boucher for an emphatic dunk.

"He was a big factor for the improved pace and the improved offence," Nurse said of Banton post-game.

3. A cold shooting night

Through the first three quarters, the Raptors couldn't buy a bucket as the Wizards led by as many as 29 points.

They eventually found a spark early in the fourth quarter with a big lineup of Banton, Barnes, Gary Trent Jr. Chris Boucher, and Khem Birch, but by then it was too late. On the night they connected on just 30-of-97 (30.9 percent) from the field and 7-of-34 (20.6 percent) from the 3-point line.

While their ball movement at times looked crisp, they simply couldn't finish off plays.

4. Siakam's absence felt

With Anunoby and VanVleet their two primary offensive weapons combining to shoot 8-of-37 (21.6 percent) tonight, the absence of All-Star forward Pascal Siakam was evident as the Raptors struggled to get easy looks, especially in the half-court.

Siakam is on his way back after undergoing shoulder surgery in the off-season and is expected to return to the court in mid-November.

5. The defence has some work to do

As is the case with any young team, the defensive side of the floor is always going to be a concern and the Raptors have some work to do.

Too often in the first half, the Wizards guards were able to stroll into the paint and get good looks at the rim, with Bradley Beal, Spencer Dinwiddie and Raul Neto taking advantage.

The Wizards feasted at the rim tonight, outscoring the Raptors 56-40 in the paint.

6. Achiuwa shows flashes

After an impressive pre-season, precious Achiuwa got the start at center on opening night, showing flashes of his potential as a small-ball five.

His energy and activity was evident from the outset as he deflected passes, hustled for rebounds and tried to finish at the rim, but his enthusiasm caught up with him as he picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter.

7. Harrell back to his Sixth Man form

It's just one game, but Washington Wizards big man Montrezl Harrell looked back to his Sixth Man of the Year winning form with an impressive performance off the bench tonight.

He poured in 22 points and nine rebounds on an efficient 9-of-11 from the field.

8. Drake in the house

Raptors Global Ambassador and No. 1 fan Drake was in the building, doing his best to help out the home team and get under Montrezl Harrell's skin.

In the third quarter, he got into it with Harrell, who was called for a technical afterwards.

9. What's next for the Raptors?

The Raptors are back in action on Friday against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Boston is coming off a thrilling double-overtime loss to the New York Knicks in their season opener.

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