You could probably count on one hand the number of nights at the ACC that have been more fun than Friday’s Raptors-palooza.
- That was something else. It was bizarre, surreal and a heck of a way to cap a record-setting homestand. Not only did the Raptors completely annihilate the Bucks, the team also unveiled Bruno Caboclo to his adoring public – and the rookie delivered, showing he has a bit of a flair for the dramatic – plus Landry Fields ran in to dunk a missed free throw, a rarity nowadays that once was a Michael Jordan specialty. That sneaky Fields has tried this before.
- Milwaukee might have been tired and definitely had been playing over its collective head this season, but nobody expected what went down. The Raptors completely throttled the Bucks. Jonas Valanciunas looked like he was battling against school children. Brandon Knight is a good player, but Kyle Lowry completely outclassed him. At one point Valanciunas and the six-foot Lowry had more rebounds than the Bucks had as a team. The Bucks looked lost trying to defend cuts or the interior. Former Raptor Jerryd Bayless said, “honestly, we got our ass beat pretty much,” and that wasn’t hyperbole. It was the truth. “That is why they are the best in the East and you have to tip your hat,” added Jared Dudley. “DeRozan didn’t even play that well (he had one of his worst nights in two years) and they still have a lot of contributions. They really embarrassed us.”
- Sure, Milwaukee had an off night and Toronto’s schedule has been pretty easy so far, but hard not to be impressed by this group. As Greivis Vasquez says, these guys are professionals. They are winning the games they should take and giving themselves some breathing room for when things get tough (which could be as soon as tonight in Cleveland).
- The story of the night was Bruno’s debut. The fans were great, calling for him in the third quarter, going nuts when he checked in and replacing the ‘let’s go Raptors’ and ‘de-fence’ chants with ‘let’s go Bruno’ and ‘Bru-no.’ Caboclo still can’t dribble, but he can really shoot the ball and isn’t afraid to fire away. He is already a fan favourite and his teammates love him too. “I feel like everything is good,” Caboclo said afterward, even though he added he didn’t feel comfortable and that the game was far different than the pre-season. “So different,” he said.
- “I thought they came in and did what we asked them to do,” Dwane Casey said of Caboclo and Bebe. “To get a taste of the NBA: It’s a lot different than being up there working out in practice once you get the adrenaline flowing, the aggressiveness of another team. The feel of a real NBA game was great for him.” Casey added that he loved the fan reaction and hopes the NBA will let coaches dress all 15 players eventually. “If he wasn’t in uniform tonight, he wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity.” Valanciunas said it “brought back good memories” of his own Toronto debut and the reception he got from the fans two years ago.
- Bebe said he was gassed the whole time he was out there (he played just shy of nine minutes) because he went through his usual, intense workout session with the training staff earlier Friday. Because nobody expects him to play, Nogueira goes through intense workouts on game days.
- Takeaways of what the Raptors did well: Pressured Knight, forcing somebody else to beat them; Moving the ball from side-to-side better than normal and driving into the paint and kicking out to the open man – something Casey had said beforehand would be a key to beating Milwaukee, a team that came in ranked fourth in the NBA in defence; Connecting from three (60% shooting) and using their size advantage (the Valanciunas dominance, Amir Johnson’s three blocks, a 15-8 edge on the offfensive glass and 57-30 rebounding edge overall).
- Casey said James Johnson was unlikely for the Cleveland game. “I doubt it because he’s still tender and sore.”
- Peak Greivis Vasquez quotes: (On Chuck Hayes): “He’s a great leader, a great locker room guy because he could be pissed (about not getting much playing time). But he’s not, he’s happy. He gets in guys’ face, he’s a great leader. He’s ready whenever his name is called. We’re blessed. I don’t know whether you guys have seen a locker room like this. We’re expecting big things.”
(On his jump shot) “It’s not really a big concern. I get in the gym, I get better and I hit the big shots when I need to.” Kind of like this guy, who hit two more on Friday.