Raptors’ road trip has had its moments, but is it enough?


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The Raptors are through four games of their season-long seven-game road trip. Just four games remain before the trade deadline arrives.

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We’ve all seen Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster watching intently as this group has shown signs of coming to life on the offensive end just to show as many signs on the defensive end that the struggle remains very laboured there.

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Progress on the offensive side combined with one of the best, if not the best defensive performance of the season was how the Raptors opened the trip in Sacramento.

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But then defensive performances like the game against the Warriors when they looked incapable of getting one stop let alone stringing some together again cast doubt on this team’s makeup.

A great all-around first quarter in Portland followed by some defensive slippage and a close game, but one the Raptors would eventually win came next.

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The loss in Phoenix may have had more positive moments than negative if you can get past that first quarter turnover fest.

Through it all hangs the question: is this mostly improved play making Raptors management more likely to start unloading at the deadline or standing  pat and letting this current mix continue to find its groove?

Clouding all of it is the injury to O.G. Anunoby, one of the very players that could be on the move, although we still think that would be a mistake.

Anunoby is now not expected to see the court again until at least the first game back in Toronto which would be a week from Wednesday and only after he is re-assessed. The trade deadline is the next day.

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In the meantime, the team can assess its comfort level, if an Anunoby move is in the cards, with Precious Achiuwa filling his spot.

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Achiuwa is playing well, although he looked a little less assertive in Phoenix than he had in any of the previous three games on the trip.

Ironically the only starter who isn’t playing at or beyond the level that he was playing before this trip is probably Pascal Siakam.

Siakam has been the one constant in an up-and-down year for most of the Raptors if you exclude the 10 games he missed with that strained groin earlier in the season.

Siakam is still averaging 22.5 points a game for the trip, but assists are down from 6.5 a night to 3.8 a night since the road trip began.

And the rebounding average has dropped from 8.2 going into the trip to just six since they got on the road.

A lot of that could be simple fatigue from carrying this team for so long. Since the beginning of December he’s averaging more minutes than any other player in the NBA at just over 38 ½ minutes a night.

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That sort of mileage will eventually catch up to a player.


The league announced the participants in the Rising Stars portion of the All-Star game and Scottie Barnes will be back for a second time.

Precious Achiuwa was in the game last year as a sophomore so there was no opportunity to have him back this time around.

The Rising Stars portion of All-Star weekend will take place on Friday, February 17 in Salt Lake City.

The competition consists of four teams that will each play three games. Three teams will be made up of seven first and second-year NBA players. The fourth team will be made up solely NBA G-League players.

Also invited were Canadian NBA rookies Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard of the Indiana Pacers as well as another Canadian born players in G-League standout and likely NBA lottery pick Leonard Miller of the G-League Ignite.

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Jeff Dowtin Jr. and Ron Harper Jr. have been returned to the Raptors G-League entry. Dalano Banton was cleared for action last game but did not see the floor. He should get some run at some point over the final three games of the road trip … In addition to Siakam’s heavy workload since the beginning of December, he is also tops for the the month of January followed by Gary Trent Jr. at No. 2, Scottie Barnes at No. 3 and Fred VanVleet at No. 6.  The only non-Raptors to make the top 6 in minutes played in January are Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards and Atlanta’s Dejounte Murray  at No’s four and five respectively.

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