Title: Raptors Secure Pre-Season Perfection Amid Promising Lineup Debut
The Toronto Raptors showcased their might on Friday as they decisively defeated the Washington Wizards in a pre-season bout, securing a perfect 4-0 record ahead of the regular season. However, the game was more than just a win; it was an exciting glimpse into the Raptors’ promising lineup as they welcomed back several key players from injury and illness.
Toronto Raptors New Head Coach
The Raptors’ new head coach, Darko Rajakovic, had the opportunity to assess his full rotation for most of the game, providing valuable insights into the team’s potential. The standout performance of the night came from rookie Scottie Barnes, who notched 23 points and six rebounds before leaving the game prematurely due to a sprained right foot. Barnes’s early exit limited Rajakovic’s evaluation, but it was clear that the rookie has immense talent and promise.
In addition to Barnes, the return of key players added to the Raptors’ excitement. Centre Jakob Poeltl, forwards Precious Achiuwa, and Otto Porter Jr. made their comeback after dealing with injuries and illness. Achiuwa, who had missed the previous three exhibition games due to a strained groin, contributed nine points and six rebounds in over 17 minutes of play, emphasizing the importance of in-game experience to understand the team’s system fully.
The Raptors new head coach Darko Rajakovic
Poeltl, who had been sidelined all week due to an undisclosed illness, made a triumphant return with eight points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes of play. “I was glad we had a little bit of a minute restriction,” he mentioned with a chuckle. “I felt really good.” Porter, who had been absent for nearly a year following surgery on his left foot, had a solid return with four points and four rebounds off the bench, indicating a careful and gradual reintegration into the team’s plans.
Despite the loss of Barnes in the third quarter, the Raptors continued to dominate the game. Pascal Siakam and O.G. Anunoby chipped in with 15 points each, securing the team’s victory. The Raptors completed their pre-season with a perfect record and are now eagerly preparing for their home opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Scotiabank Arena.
When asked about the significance of their 4-0 pre-season record, Coach Rajakovic downplayed it, emphasizing that their primary focus is on the regular season. He likened it to their 1-4 record in the Summer League, which was all about learning and improvement. “The regular season starts now, our main thing starts now,” he affirmed.
For the Washington Wizards, Deni Avdija shone with 18 points and seven rebounds, and Eugene Omoruyi added 16 off the bench. Despite an early 7-0 lead by the Wizards, the Raptors quickly took control and held the lead for most of the game.
In the fourth quarter, even without Barnes, the Raptors continued to impress, with rookie Gradey Dick nailing a spectacular three-pointer. Javon Freeman-Liberty contributed with a putback layup, extending Toronto’s lead to a staggering 40 points.
In a roster-related update, the Raptors made some adjustments. They signed Justise Winslow, a former 10th overall pick, and waived Makur Maker in a corresponding move. Winslow, who was drafted by the Miami Heat in 2015, provides valuable experience to the team. These roster moves brought the Raptors to the league maximum of 15 players.
The Raptors’ perfect pre-season record, along with the successful return of key players, has fans and analysts excited about the team’s prospects in the upcoming regular season. With the combination of promising rookies and experienced veterans, Toronto looks poised for a strong campaign ahead.