The Toronto Raptors moved to 8-3 on the season Wednesday night after earning a big-time road win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
With the win, the Raptors are now 3-1 on their first of two five-game road trips of the season; this particular trip has dealt the team with plenty of early-season adversity in the form of injuries.
Despite being down four players - three of which were injured on this trip - Toronto dug in and found a way to escape the Moda Center with a win.
For more on how they did it, here are some takeaways from the Raptors gutsy win:
Siakam and VanVleet showcase their championship DNA
They did it on Sunday without Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka and tonight, the Toronto Raptors again found a way to win with OG Anunoby joining the aforementioned two on the inactive list.
The championship DNA present on this roster is evident in wins like this one and it begins up top.
Pascal Siakam finished the night with a game-high 36 points (on 15-for-28 shooting) but there was a point in the night where it appeared that he just didn't have it. Rather than getting discouraged, Siakam took the challenge head-on, remained persistent and found his spots to finish with an impressively efficient stat line.
Siakam's 36 was almost louder than it seemed as he hit a number of big buckets in a variety of ways - face up 3s, turnaround jumpers and, of course, his signature spin move towards the basket. With each passing game, the fourth-year forward looks increasingly comfortable in a star role.
After Siakam was Fred VanVleet, who did the majority of his work in the first and third quarters.
66 PTS combined‼️ #WeTheNorth@pskills43 (36 PTS) and @FredVanVleet (30 PTS, 7 AST) help the @Raptors improve to 8-3! pic.twitter.com/l8XrOST2qV- NBA (@NBA) November 14, 2019
VanVleet came out of the gates firing, scoring 11 points in the first frame on 5-for-7 shooting. After a quiet second, VanVleet again put up a double-digit scoring quarter in the third as he scored 10 points on 3-for-5 shooting to bring his total to the night to 25.
Siakam did the majority of his damage in the fourth, scoring 13 points in the frame but VanVleet scored five in the final frame to bring his total for the night to 30. While the two big names in the starting lineup made the most noise, Toronto wouldn't have won without…
Big sparks off the bench
Depth has been an overarching concern for this Raptors team early on this season but it appears to be an issue that's beginning to work itself out.
In being down four players, Nick Nurse had to look deeper down the bench for contributions, and the team got just that.
Chris Boucher, who had two big games in Los Angeles earlier in the week, was the first man off the bench Wednesday night. While he scored just two points in the win over Portland, Boucher was active on the glass, grabbing seven rebounds - three of which came on the offensive end.
Undrafted rookie Terence Davis II didn't see the floor until the second frame but his impact was felt almost immediately, knocking down three triples in the frame for 11 points in the quarter. Davis would finish with 15 points (on 5-for-10 shooting) and six rebounds and was a team-best plus-19 in his 30 minutes off the bench.
Perhaps the biggest bench contribution came from the ultimate energy guy in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who recorded a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double in under 26 minutes of action. Hollis-Jefferson was extremely active, grabbing eight offensive rebounds and making big hustle plays to extend possessions for the Raptors on the night.
HYPE FRED > pic.twitter.com/GRZeYURVnI- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 14, 2019
In the offseason, RHJ was brought in to bring the energy and he certainly did tonight, which is by far his best game as a Raptor thus far.
While there were some eye-popping numbers on the glass, Toronto only won the battle of the boards by a margin of seven.
The difference, however, was the dominance in the paint.
For the game, Toronto scored 50 points (on 25-for-48 shooting) in the paint while Portland managed to score just 22 points (on 11-for-32 shooting). These glaring figures speak volumes to the Raptors' defence and ability to make things difficult on the interior.
Toronto blocked nine of Portland's shots and altered many more, which greatly impacted both the numbers and the efficiency of the Trail Blazers' offence.
Portland finished the night shooting just 38-for-96 (39.6%) overall and become the fifth team that Toronto has held under 40.0% shooting in its first 11 games. Toronto's defence is looking more and more elite and more recently, has resulted in the neutralization of star players.
Limiting Damian Lillard
Portland's All-NBA point guard entered the night averaging 32.5 points per game while shooting 49.8% from the field and 39.3% from beyond the arc. To take it a step further, Lillard was averaging 39.0 points over the team's last three games thanks to a career-high 60 points just last week against Brooklyn.
But Wednesday night was a much different story.
Lillard finished with a season-low nine points (on 2-for-12 shooting) and his second made field goal came with under three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
It's been a big week of limiting All-NBA talent for the Raptors, who have now held LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Lillard to a combined 34 points (on 9-for-38 shooting) in the past three games this week.
The numbers speak for themselves and are a testament to the defensive game planning of Nick Nurse and the Raptors' ability to throw different bodies at prolific scorers in order to make things difficult.
However, it gets no easier for Toronto…
Toronto travels to Texas as it is set to close out this five-game road trip against Western Conference opponents on Saturday night against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.
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