Raptors

Anunoby’s Shot Sprinkles Life Into Nearly-Dead Raptors

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OG Anunoby doesn’t show much emotion—it’s just not who he is. So while all of Twitter blew up after he hit a season-saving shot, launching a corner three with 0.5 seconds left in the game to lift the Toronto Raptors over the Boston Celtics, Anunoby acted as if he simply won a pickup game at his local YMCA.

“It was cool,” Anunoby said straightforwardly about the shot. “I don’t shoot trying to miss.” 

Although Anunoby didn’t have a strong reaction, his game-winner was the saving grace in a game that almost certainly caused heart palpitations across the Raptors fan base. Following a slow first half, Toronto fought back to defeat the Celtics 104-103, reasserting themselves back in a series that draws flashbacks to last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.  

Both times, Toronto faced 2-0 deficits. Both times required nail-biting third games. And both times, an emotionless Raptors player made the difference. 

“I know he’s excited. I think that’s just his nature,” Fred VanVleet said postgame. “That was true OG form, to knock down the biggest shot of his life and act like nothing happened.”

“It’s all about OG,” Kyle Lowry said, also postgame. “Give OG his flowers tonight, man.”

Anunoby scored 12 points and recorded 10 rebounds—his first career playoff double-double— in 45 minutes of game action. 

“Seriously. Everybody. Just give OG his flowers” 

Klutch Kyle

While OG will deservingly receive praise for winning the game, Lowry was the visionary behind it all. According to him, the play was designed for VanVleet, not Anunoby.

“I was just waiting for the right moment, and I had to make a precise pass to a heck of a shooter in OG,” Lowry said.

Offensively, Lowry was one of the lone bright spots. He finished with 31 points, eight assists and six rebounds in 46 minutes. He also did this: 

And this:

Lowry also took a painful knee to the groin from Brad Wanamaker.  (For pain-inducing reasons, no video will be included of that). 

To quote Lowry: “I mean, obviously I’ve got balls of steel.”

Pascal’s Playoff Pains

Pascal Siakam’s struggles from the field continued in Game 3. Siakam finished the game with 16 points, which was the third most on the team. But at one point, he had more fouls (3) than points (2) and field goal makes (0). 

Granted, yes—there are a lot of factors at play. It’s now been over two months since the Raptors arrived in Florida to begin prepping for the NBA restart. It’s the first playoff run Siakam has had to adjust to being the star player on the court. It’s only been a little over a week since the Raptors seriously considered leaving the bubble in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting. Realistically though, it’s just a struggle to adapt to fantastic defense by Jaylen Brown and the Celtics.

Siakam is averaging 15.3 points per game against the Celtics, which is discouraging to see from your max-contract player. He’s been forcing shots all series long, and the first half of Thursday’s game was no different. 

The thing is, the Celtics’ defense won’t slow down as the series progresses. It will be up to Siakam to adjust and overcome these lackluster performances. 

Aside from increasing Siakam’s confidence, there are just a few key fixes that the Raptors need to make in order to even the series—the biggest being making their three-point shots. In the first two games, the Raptors shot a combined 21-80 from downtown. And while Game 3 was better, 32.5% still isn’t a benchmark to strive for. 

The Raptors’ resiliency, high on display in Game 3, will be key going forward in this series. 

“We expect a lot of ourselves. And so to be down 0-2, we knew it wasn’t over, but nobody was happy,” VanVleet said. “People were pissed off, the mood wasn’t great, and all we needed was one to get the juice back, get a little magic, little luck, and get the momentum going on our side.”

The defending champions may be down, but they’re certainly not out. Maybe OG’s three and a touch of Disney magic will be enough to rejuvenate a team that seemed to have given up.

Follow us on Twitter @RaptorsLead for the latest Raptors news and insight.

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About Sasha Podzorov

Sasha Podzorov is a journalism student at Stony Brook University where he broadcasts volleyball, soccer and lacrosse games. He is a huge basketball and soccer fan, and a Top Gear and Jeopardy enthusiast. Connect with him on Twitter @sasha_podzorov

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