Or : OG! OG! OG!
I had to wait a little bit after the game ended before I started this write up. I was on such a high after that Anunoby game winner. Those moments are the ones you absolutely love as a basketball fan, unless you’re a Celtic fan. Wow! I loved it so much, I even forgot about how mad the referees made me, again. What a blast. Let’s get into it. I want to talk about OG, a little bit about OG, some basketball and then we will finish up on some OG.
Kyle Lowry did exactly what he needed to do. He came out and was aggressive early. He was scoring well, engaged defensively and getting his teammates involved. Of course, we had a few of his cheap attempts to pick up fouls. It wouldn’t be a Raptors game without at least one flop from Lowry. He didn’t disappoint in that regard. That being said, he also picked up a couple of pretty hard knocks. Both ended up being called flagrants, but we will get into that later. 56% shooting for Kyle, 31 points, 2 steals, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, including the one that lead to the game winner (from OG, in case you didn’t know) over Tacko Fall. He only shot 25% from downtown but that’s been the story of the series for the reigning champions. Those struggles continued tonight, but they did hit a few more.
Marc Gasol has been largely ineffective in this series and tonight was no exception. He is just getting outworked on the inside and he can’t hit a shot from outside. Daniel Theis is dominating him. However, when they put Gasol in the pick and roll situation, he is actually scoring very well. Look for Nick Nurse to try and get him involved that way in game 4. Speaking of ineffective play, Siakam had another rough start. He was much better in the second half (mainly the third quarter) but is still severely underperforming. Just as Theis is taking Gasol out of the contest, Brown is doing the same on Siakam. If the Raptors cannot get the 3 ball to fall, they are really going to need Siakam to figure out his struggles.
VanVleet finally managed to find the bottom of the net. He is definitely the x factor in this series. He was still no where near as efficient as we have gotten used to seeing him, he will need to shoot at a higher clip. After a rough start, he finished 25 points (including 5 triples) on about 40% shooting. Hopefully, that game was enough to spark him and he can start hitting crucial shots for Toronto again. Ibaka was a non factor in this game.
This year, the playoffs are giving me a bunch of new favourite players. OG has been on map for a while, ever since the scarf incident really. He has not disappointed me ever since. He has been good in the playoffs and about the only person shooting the ball consistently for Toronto. Well, consistently in a positive way. A lot of guys have been consistently rubbish. Anyway. OG! 60% from downtown again tonight, including (in case you haven’t heard) the game winner on the buzzer! What a stone cold baller. Down only 2 with 0.5 on the clock, I was almost certain that Toronto would run a lob to the rim for Gasol. When Lowry threw the basketball to the corner, I thought it was over. I didn’t know if OG would have the time to catch and shoot, and even if he did, it would be rushed and he’d probably miss. Boy, was I wrong. He apparently did not feel any pressure. He didn’t rush and he did not miss. I love it when a young player steps up in a huge moment. I lost it! There was lots of jumping up and down and cheering in my house. Mainly from me, a tiny bit from my daughter. Just awesome.
Kemba Walker came out and put his stamp on the game pretty early. 29 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists (including the almost game winning one) on 60% shooting. He was great, it’s hard to fault him really. As I already mentioned, Theis was incredible, especially on defense. Same as Jaylen Brown.
Watching the game, it felt like Boston played the better game overall. They just collapsed a little late and a miracle shot from OG sealed their fate. You can blame a lot, but for me it’s Tatum. Where was he? According to the box score, he almost played 40 minutes tonight. I barely noticed him. Very inefficient scoring performance from him. He will need to bounce back strong for the next game. Boston should still feel like they have all the momentum in this series, especially if Toronto continue to shoot the long ball poorly. Speaking of poor shooting, I noticed a few airballs for the Raptors tonight and a few for the Bucks yesterday. If you read my 2k21 review, you might remember I said how you don’t see a lot of airballs anymore. Looks like I was wrong!
This is the NBA, so unfortunately I have to talk about the officiating again. Stan Van Gundy said that all you have to do is yell and complain enough and the referees will go review a play for a hostile act. That seems to be 100% true. I thought the point of the coaches challenge was to force the review. I didn’t know you could just yell enough and effectively have an unlimited number of challenges. 3 fouls were reviewed for a hostile act in this game. Each one was dumber than the last. Something has got to change!
First, Lowry cops an elbow to the head when he is setting a screen on Theis. Yes, it was a foul. I wish they just left it there, but of course we had to review for a hostile act. Lowry was on the ground after all and we all know, Lowry never hits the deck without reason. I’m not saying it wasn’t a hard hit, it would of taken me down to. But there was no hostility at all. Theis wasn’t even aware Lowry was there. Not surprising, considering that Lowry came from his blindside. All Theis tried to do was stay with his opponent. If you set a screen, sometimes you are going to get smacked.
We had the absolutely devastating Williams dunk on Siakam. If you didn’t see it, go check it out. Monster slam. Siakam comes across with a late challenge. He probably should of let it go, but he contested and pushed Williams. It was a soft push and Williams barely budged. I understand that it’s dangerous to hit a guy in the air. It was barely a hit though. As Stan Van Gundy said, back in the day that would just be incidental contact and no whistle. It was definitely a foul, but of course we had to check for a hostile act and of course we found one. I was swearing my head off at the television. Every day I continue to be surprised by these calls. Surprised is the wrong word. It doesn’t surprise me anymore, but it still makes me mad.
The last one. Lowry hits the dirt again, after a knee to his you know whats. Oof. I’m not saying it didn’t hurt. I would of hit the deck too. It’s Lowry though, say it with me, you don’t have to review a play just because Lowry hits the ground! Wanamaker was just driving. You see guys drive like that all the time. Fortunately, common sense prevailed and they didn’t call a flagrant. Although, for the sake of consistency, I wish they had. It’s getting hard to predict. Anyway, that’s all we had to worry about with the referees. Go back to your happy place. OG for the win!
By my reckoning, we have had the last 5 or 6 games come down to the final possession. We’ve been pretty lucky to see such closely contested basketball every single game. We’ve had heartbreaking misses, controversial whistle, clutch defense and, of course, OG’s winner. The run was bound to end eventually and it did tonight, when the Clippers thumped the Denver Nuggets. Told you so (not that it was a particularly difficult call to make).
There isn’t a lot to say about this one. After the first quarter, I thought the Nuggets might actually remain competitive. Both teams were shooting the ball well. I thought maybe some of the “rest vs rust argument” would come up. I was wrong. The Clippers pulled a way a little bit and then Denver basically gave up. It was all Clippers for the rest of the game.
Jokic came out and played really well. For about a quarter. That seems to be his M.O. Then he just gave up and it felt like majority of the Nuggets followed suit, as is often the case. Defensively, he was just a liability most of the time. No one really stood out for Denver. I noticed Murray was still playing hard, I saw him diving for a couple of loose balls. The Clippers took him out of the game though, same as basically everyone. After the first quarter, the Nuggets couldn’t hit anything.
It was a strong team effort for the Clippers, lead once again by Leonard. I thought he make take a back seat to George for this series, but it looks like Kawhi Leonard doesn’t play second fiddle. 75% shooting for 29 points for Leonard. He wasn’t the only one though. Basically, the whole team shot the ball at a high efficiency. Inside and out. Denver never stood a chance. L.A. dominated in the paint and shot the 3 very effectively. The sweep is looking good. I’m just glad I don’t have to talk about the referees again.