Quick hits and observations from the first half of Game 1.
Hello, Deron Williams. It’s Nice To See You Again
18 first half points for Deron Williams, who looked as close to his old self as he has all year. Even though his shooting wasn’t all that great (7-17 from the floor), if this is a true return to form and not a mirage, it changes the dynamic of the series. Maybe Williams was just playing opossum the entire year? Yeah, sure, let’s go with that.
Wherefore Art Thou, DeMar DeRozan And Terrence Ross?
DeMar DeRozan figures to be a pivotal player in this series, but he struggled mightily in the first half, going 0-5 from the field and turning the ball over twice. He rode the pine for a good deal of the second quarter, probably due in equal parts to his struggles and his fouls.
Ross, meanwhile, had his fair share of difficulties, picking up three fouls in just eight minutes of play. The Raptors really need his athleticism and ability to stretch the floor.
My Name Is Jonas
Jonas Valanciunas’ first half was a mixed bag. The near double-double of 10 points and nine rebounds (including three offensive boards) is nice, but the five turnovers are troubling. He still needs to work on holding the ball higher, as he’s prone to being stripped when he holds it low.
Holy Crap That Atmosphere
Over at ESPN, our own Seerat Sohi had a tremendous piece on how the Raptors’ success is changing the way basketball’s viewed and embraced in Canada. The frenzied crowd, the awesome We The North banner, Masai Ujiri’s expletive before the game all proved Seerat’s point. It’s easy to call this sudden swell of fandom a serious case of bandwagon-itis, but success breeds fandom. The Raptors really haven’t given their city or country a reason to support them over the past few years, but that’s slowly starting to change.