The Toronto Raptors have taken a 1-0 lead in the opening round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs with a commanding 134-110 win over the Brooklyn Nets, breaking a few records in the process.
Toronto's 134 points are a franchise record for points in a postseason game, thanks largely in part to the team hitting a postseason franchise-record 22 3s on the night.
Fred VanVleet led the way for the Raptors with 30 points (on 73.3%) shooting as six different players finished in double figures. The Nets were led by 26 points (on 69.2% shooting) from Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot.
Here are some thoughts from the game:
Home away from home
Owners of the league's second-best record, the Raptors would have opened the season at Scotiabank Arena in a typical year, instead, it was a home game over 2,000 kilometres away at AdventHealth Arena.
Kudos to the game presentation crew, who did what they could to make this feel like a home game for Toronto with a beautiful rendition of "O Canada" and a heartwarming introduction of the starting five by the players' families.
Family first. #WeTheNorth- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 17, 2020
Inspired by our homies @Suns pic.twitter.com/RLivNiVctG
What Game 1 woes?
Entering the day, Toronto had an all-time record of 1-10 in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs.
Game 1 in 2020 was a different story.
Despite a rally from the scrappy Nets, it was a wire-to-wire victory for the Raptors, who led by as many as 33 points in the first half. It's almost as if winning a title did something for the swagger of this team, getting the proverbial monkey off its back.
Fred VanVleet picked up right where he left off at the end of the 2019 playoffs.
Steady Freddy was just that from the jump, firing on all cylinders in the first half to enter the break with 16 points and eight assists while shooting 6-for-8 (75%) from the field including 4-for-5 (80%) from deep.
He would go on to finish with 30 points and 11 assists while shooting a scorching 11-for-15 (73.3%) from the field and 8-for-10 (80%) from 3-point range, including this nasty stepback.
Freddy's just cold, man pic.twitter.com/hL1Jq2rWzZ- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 17, 2020
LeVert dishes it out
Coming into the series, the Raptors were very aware of how Caris LeVert could hurt them as a scorer, with Nick Nurse indicating that they'd throw a number of different defenders his way.
He responded by getting others involved.
Despite finishing with just 15 points on 5-for-14 (35.7%) shooting, LeVert dished out 15 assists, just four shy of Jason Kidd's franchise postseason record of 19. As the third option next season, Nets fans should be encouraged by the prospect of a playmaking LeVert alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Serge provides a spark
When the second unit did its damage, it was Serge Ibaka that led the charge.
In 25 minutes off the bench, Ibaka finished with 22 points (on 8-for-14 shooting), seven rebounds and three assists.
22 Pts / 7 Reb / 3 Ast / @sergeibaka- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 17, 2020
*Chefs Kiss* pic.twitter.com/y5WrfMOkOE
Toronto is a much better team when Serge is playing well, so this is an encouraging sign moving forward.
After missing the entirety of the 2019 postseason due to complications following an appendectomy, OG Anunoby made a welcomed return to the Raptors playoff lineup.
He made his presence felt, too.
In 34 minutes of action, Anunoby finished with 12 points (on 4-for-8 shooting), five rebounds and one of the game's best highlights.
GROWN MAN MOVE pic.twitter.com/f4TY6emhdo- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 17, 2020
These two teams are back at it in less than 48 hours as Game 2 takes place on Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 11 p.m.
See you then.
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