Jimmy Butler offered baskets to every teammate20 April 2020 / Miguel Coelho
The 30-year-old didn't want his teammates to remain rusty... So he gifted them baskets
Current NBA champions had an uphill battle in front of them yesterday night. They were facing a Lakers team who had 2 days rest, riding on a seven game winning streak, and without Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Every betting house had the California team as a huge favorite to take the win, rightfully so.
However, that’s not what really happened. Nick Nurse, one of the best coaches in the league, is doing an amazing job of finding different players to replicate what Kawhi Leonard brought to the table last season. Let’s start with Pascal Siakam. The Most Improved Player from last year’s league is performing at an incredible level. One can argue that the same award he received back in June, could fit him as good as it fit him last season due to his previous campaign. He’s currently averaging 27.4 Points per game and 9.4 Rebounds on a 49.7 Field Goal percentage. If Toronto could seal a top 3 record in the standings when it’s all said and done, Siakam would eventually end up on the list of favorites to take home MVP honors.
With Lowry out, Fred Vanvleet, one of Raptors heroes during their NBA Finals campaign, was the only point guard available for the Canadian team. The burden on him was immense, and if he was already delivering when Lowry used to be his backcourt teammate, he needed to step up even more now in his absence. The undrafted guard, many times written off by the “supposedly NBA experts” delivered once again. Why do you need Kyle Lowry if the Rockford-born player smoothly takes care of the job? Credit to Nick Nurse for giving an opportunity to these players who are looking for a chance to make it in the league, that will give their heart and soul in order to secure a roster spot. Not only Fred Vanvleet secured a roster spot, but he turned himself on one of the most desired free agents for next year’s class. Averaging career-highs with 16 Points per game on a 40.4 three-point field goal percentage, he’s seen as one of the Raptors franchise cornerstones.
The Raptors went on to steal the game from the Lakers hands yesterday at the Staples Center, displaying an incredible defensive intensity in the 4th quarter. The Toronto “Bench Mob”, a name that sticked with the team since last year, came through in the clutch, along with Pascal Siakam. Chris Boucher, Terence Davis and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, players who are receiving little time on the court, or even none, showed Nick Nurse that their presence is not to be discarded. With their recent injury woes, the Raptors coach needs to search deeper in the bench for solutions that could help his squad in the long run, and he might just have found the answer in yesterday’s game.
LeBron James only made a field goal in the 2nd half, and Anthony Davis couldn’t seem to find the net on his three-point shots in the 4th quarter. Add to that, that former Raptor Danny Green had a terrible game with 0 (!) points. When it all seemed to align for another Lakers win, the Canadian team gave a reality check to Frank Vogel and company, winning 113-104.
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