The Raptors 905 got their first taste of "The Six" as they were host to the Maine Red Claws. in front of thousands of children, accompanied by their teachers of course, took the trip downtown to the Air Canada Centre. The atmosphere seemed to be very energetic and it was mostly because this was a good game to cheer for.
This game had big performances, drama, injury scares and clutch baskets. With 23 seconds left on the clock in the 4th quarter, The 905 were running down the clock down by 1, looking to take the final lead.
Delon Wright drove to basket but missed a tough layup, Bruno Caboclo, who was money from three this game, cleaned up the mess and hit a tough put back to lead the Maine Red Claws 95-94 with only 4.3 seconds left on the clock.
That would be enough drama for any fan, but that was not where the game stopped. Levi Randolph, with a second left on the clock hits a backbreaking tough layup to win the game gor the Red Claws, 96-95.
Randolph finished with 21 points, Delon Wright led the Raptors 905 in scoring a game high 23 points.
The Raptors 905 bench did not bring their A-game. Usually, coach Mermuys has Axel Toupane, Jay Harris and Melvin Johnson III to rely on for some scoring but combined the trio was 4/13 with only 13 points, 11 of those points came from Toupane on 4/10 shooting. That was in stark comparison to Randolph, who came off the bench and changed the scope of the game.
It did not help that the Raptors were 8-15 (53.3 %) from the charity stripe. Free throws, had been a reoccurring issue for The 905 that has been not talked about as much. The 905 for the season have shot an abysmal 69.3 percent from the line, and in close games like this missed free throws are only accentuated.
The 905 lead in field goal percentage (46.0-42.5), three-point percentage (43.8-39.4), points in the paint (62-34). Usually that is a recipe to win but free throws were detrimental to this team which was a big reason for the loss. However, considering how quickly they have fixed their defensive issues, there should not be any worry that the 905 cannot fix their free throw issues for the most part.
The Raptors 905 fans can take away a lot of positives. Ronald Roberts and Delon Wright are giving the 905 solid productivity.
Ronald Roberts had a monster 16 points & 15 rebounds in this game and Delon had another 20+ point night. A double-double night is almost what you expect from Ronald Roberts at this point as he is averaging 14.2 points per game and 11.2 rebounds per game, which is crazy but true. In the case of Delon Wright, he is able to get such easy shots that one could almost say it was a quiet 23 points. It was layup after layup for Wright and to see that should make Toronto Raptors' fans smile just as wide as Raptor 905 fans.
Wright for the season in the D-League is averaging a blistering 17.8 points per game on 60 percent from the field. For a point guard to shoot 60 percent is excellent and it will be interesting to see if Wright can keep up that production.
Bruno Caboclo is turning into a knockdown three point shooter. Caboclo finished with 19 points and was 4/9 from three. His shot was silky smooth in the loss; if Caboclo is open from downtown, he will drain that jumper.
The two killers for the 905 this season --- defense and turnovers --- were non-existent. The 905 held the Red Claws to under 100 points which is the standard for solid defense in the D-League. In Addition to that, the 905 coughed up the ball only 15 times --- considering that they committed 20+ turnovers in their last two points before this one then one can see this as an improvement.
The 905 will look to bounce back from their heartbreaking defeat as they host the Westchester Knicks Sunday night. Tip-off is at 6:00pm in the Hershey Centre.