The Raptors had the Los Angeles Clippers in town for a Sunday matinee yesterday. They led more or less from start to finish, really pulling away after a strong second quarter. The final score was 121-103. The Raptors were without Kyle Lowry, while the Clippers were at more or less full strength.
Here are my takeaways from that game:
1. Siakam's Confidence in the 3-Ball is Growing
Pascal Siakam has been improving the most glaring weakness in his game (his three point shooting) throughout the course of the season so far.
The most encouraging moment in the Clippers game for Siakam came when he launched a corner three, missed, got the ball back in the same spot and didn't hesitate to pull another. The second one dropped through the mesh, good for three points.
Against the Clippers Siakam was just 1-4 from deep, but even just the fact that he's taking four threes is encouraging. If he's knocking them down at a steady enough clip, defenders will have to guard him behind the arc, giving him the freedom to blow by them or pull up if they sag off.
2. Ibaka Continues His Impressive Run
Serge Ibaka was struggling heavily as a Raptor before this season. The switch from power forward center seems to be a big reason for his resurgence.
Despite shooting an absolutely awful clip from three (26.4%), Serge Ibaka's numbers are looking similar to his numbers in OKC. After two mediocre seasons with the Raptors in which he shot 45.9% for 14.2 points and 48.3% for 12.6 points respectively, he's shooting 52.4% for 16.1 points.
His rebounds are up from his previous two seasons in Toronto as well, currently sitting at 7.7.
Although Ibaka's season numbers are impressive, he's been on a tear as of late. He's recorded a double-double in six straight games, and the Clippers were no exception. Serge put up 16 and 12 against them.
3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the Real Deal
The man who's been hailed as the future of Canadian basketball made his Canadian NBA debut against the Raptors on Sunday. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has had a quietly solid rookie season after a lone year at Kentucky.
SGA has seen 26.1 minutes per game, playing most as a starter. In those minutes, he's averaged 10.1 points, 3.0 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. If not for the talent-level of fellow rookies Luka Doncic and DeAndre Ayton, Gilgeous-Alexander would most certainly be in the conversation for NBA Rookie of the Year.
Against the Raptors yesterday, SGA was the Clippers lead scorer with 19 points, and filled out the stat sheet with 5 boards and 3 assists on the game.
The Clippers will travel to Charlotte to play the Hornets on Tuesday night, while the Raptors have the 76ers in Philly on the same night.