On the second night of a back-to-back, the Toronto Raptors cruised to a 105-92 win over the Detroit Pistons.
Here are some quick thoughts from the game...
1. Pascal Siakam likes playing against the Pistons
Siakam set the tone in this one with a dominant first quarter.
He led the Raptors in scoring with 13 first-quarter points, doing so on 5-for-6 shooting from the field and 2-for-3 from 3-point range. His only miss was a deep pull-up with the shot clock winding down at the end of the period.
.@pskills43 makin' it look effortless pic.twitter.com/oi1VbBP4oI- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 1, 2020
Siakam also had one assist in the quarter - a nifty pass to Norman Powell cutting baseline - making him responsible for half of Toronto's scoring to start the game.
Thanks to Siakam's hot start, the Raptors jumped out to an early double digit lead that they would hold on to the rest of the way. The last time the Pistons led was when Svi Mykhailiuk completed a four-point play with 6:33 to play in the first quarter. The Pistons made a couple of runs over the final three quarters, but they never got close enough for the end result to ever really be in doubt.
Siakam finished with 30 points to lead the Raptors. He's scored 26 or more points in each of Toronto's games against Detroit this season.
2. Kyle Lowry is a tough cover for Svi Mykhailiuk
This was an All-Star move by Lowry:
KLOW GOT 'EM PLAYING TWISTER pic.twitter.com/bOOMUOGH6r- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 1, 2020
3. Serge Ibaka continues to fill in for Marc Gasol
Earlier in the day, our Carlan Gay wrote about how Ibaka made history in the team's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers this week by becoming the first player in NBA history to record 500 3-pointers and 1,500 blocks in their career.
Ibaka didn't have a block in this one, but he did add to his 3-point total by going 3-for-4 from the perimeter. That ties his season-high for 3s made in a game.
Those 3s helped Ibaka score 21 points in 28 minutes, making him Toronto's second-leading scorer for the game.
This was the 16th game Ibaka has started in this season. To his credit, he always seems to step up whenever the Raptors need him to. Whereas he's averaging 13.4 points and 7.2 rebounds as a reserve this season, he entered Friday's game averaging 18.2 points and 9.5 rebounds as a starter.
Not only that, his shooting percentages are significantly better as a starter.
It's still unknown how long Gasol will be out for, but the Raptors will continue to lean on Ibaka until he returns.
4. Maybe Norman Powell should be in the dunk contest
Powell had three huge dunks in this one.
The first was on Andre Drummond.
Chef servin' it up for Norm pic.twitter.com/3JaGJROwfz- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 1, 2020
The second was on Bruce Brown.
ANGRY NORM- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 1, 2020
And the third was on ... Drummond again.
Cocked that joint back & banged on 'em pic.twitter.com/jPftrReJBD- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 1, 2020
5. Nick Nurse can book his ticket to Chicago
With a win, the Raptors have locked up the second-best record in the Eastern Conference heading into All-Star Weekend.
That means Nick Nurse will be the head coach of Team Giannis because Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks is ineligible after serving as the head coach of Team Giannis in last year's All-Star Game.
The North representing the East. #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/skjBKdSy0X- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 1, 2020
Nurse becomes the second head coach in franchise history to represent the Raptors at the All-Star Game. The first? Dwane Casey, who is currently the head coach of the Pistons team that the Raptors beat on Friday.
Life is funny like that sometimes.
6. One step closer to a franchise record
This marks Toronto's 10th straight win, making for the second-longest winning streak in franchise history.
The Raptors will have an opportunity to tie the franchise record of 11 consecutive wins, which has been done twice, on Monday. Assuming they win that game, they'll then have a chance to break the record on Wednesday when they take on the Indiana Pacers.
Whether the streak is still alive at that point or not, Toronto's matchup with Indiana should be a fun one, as the Pacers have been one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference this season and just welcomed two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo back to the lineup.
7. What's next?
The Raptors are back in action on Monday, when they take on the Chicago Bulls.
It'll be the third and final meeting between the two teams this regular season. The Raptors have won the first two, winning the first by 24 points, the second by one point.
FiveThirtyEight's played-based forecasting model gives the Raptors an 85 percent chance of beating the Bulls on Monday.
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