Initial Thoughts on the First Post-Trade Matchup Between the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs
Writer: Jameson White
On the night of January 3rd, the Toronto Raptors came to San Antonio to take on the Spurs. This was the first matchup between the two teams following the July blockbuster trade including All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan. Here are a few initial thoughts based on the first matchup:
1. The fans of San Antonio were not happy to see their former All-NBA talent.
Every time that Kawhi Leonard touched the ball, lined up to shoot a free throw, or even had his name mentioned, the entire crowd booed in unison. At one point, “traitor” chants echoed throughout the AT&T Center as Leonard was standing at the charity-stripe. Harsh words for the once beloved Small Forward.
2. DeMar is not just “the other guy” from the July trade.
DeMar DeRozan has been outspoken regarding mental illness for the last few seasons, and much of the NBA community felt for the slashing guard as he was betrayed by the only franchise he ever played for. He returned the favor to his former team, posting his first career triple-double in an incredibly efficient fashion.
3. The Raptors are not the same team without Kyle Lowry.
Lowry had been among the league’s leaders in assists per game leading Toronto’s offense. Without him, the efficiency the Raptors play with has taken a dip. Kawhi Leonard is most certainly one of the best scorers in the league and has performed as such in his half-season in Toronto. However, they are obviously missing their starting point guard.
4. LaMarcus Aldridge manhandled the Raptors paint defense.
LaMarcus Aldridge continued his exceptional play by scoring at will against the Raptors. There were a few consecutive possessions in which he was one-on-one on the low block against Serge Ibaka, and continuously either scored in the paint or drew a shooting foul against the NBA vet. Aldridge finished the night with 23 points on 10-14 shooting and a plus/minus of +24. Ibaka, however, had 14 points and five personal fouls.
5. San Antonio remains on its hot streak.
The Spurs were the hottest team in the NBA during the month of December and have continued their winning ways into the first game of January. Coming into the NBA season, there were questions on how San Antonio would be able to compete with some of the elite teams in the association based on the personnel they possessed. As expected, the team got off to a rough start to the season. Yet, they have been absolutely scorching since the first of December, going 12-5 and boasting top-ten ratings in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
The Spurs defeated the Raptors in convincing fashion, jumping out to a huge lead in the first quarter of the game and never really letting their foot off the gas. Now, this by no measure means that San Antonio is the better team or will go deeper in the playoffs than the Raptors. However, the Spurs got a much-needed win in their first game against their former superstar; definitely not a bad way to ring in the new year.