The Toronto Raptors opened their show season Sunday by simply dominating their Canadian home away from home.
Pre-season or not, keeping an NBA team — even one in rebuilding mode like the Utah Jazz — to just 33 points in the second half is remarkable. And that’s what the Raptors did in a 114-82 victory at Rogers Place.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse spoke highly of what he calls the “average line-up” player who saw most of the game do some very good things to break the Jazz. .
“Lots of deflections, lots of challenges at the belt, swings, good bounces, the circumnavigation competitions are all pretty good,” he said. “I think I have to see a lot of midpoints in the squad, which is good. It is very useful. “
With a one-goal lead going into the second half, the Toronto Raptors started the third half with a 17-3 win in their pre-season opener for both teams.
Jazz, a team in the midst of rebuilding after stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell were swapped for the season, looks a lot like a club starting from scratch, shooting 32.6% from the floor in the early hours. night and foul 23 turnover.
Jazz coach Will Hardy said, “We’ve done a lot through the first four practice sessions to come together as a team,” who says it’s important to see this new version of Jazz come to life. operate in a “competitive environment”. just the first game of the pre-season.
“We are looking for people to communicate and solve problems as a team. Young players, to earn a spot in the rotation, they’ll have to do the dirty work, they’ll have to lift to an NBA level of fitness. “
A capacity crowd at Rogers Place watched the pre-season performance. Tickets for the NBA Canada Series game sold out just minutes after they went on sale, and lower-priced tickets will cost more than $700 each on secondary sales sites.
“The crowd is getting in, it’s the only chance they get to see us in their hometown or hometown,” Nurse said. “And, they usually carry it with them. It’s great because, listen, there are a lot of pre-season games where you go through with no energy and almost leaning towards negative energy. We didn’t have to go through that, and it was fun.”
Defender Fred Van Vleet says the Raptors have received “rock star treatment” since they landed in Edmonton on Saturday. “Hopefully we’ll have a good performance,” he said. Van Vleet, expected to be one of the stars of the team this season, played at 9:39 in Edmonton, scoring three points.
“It’s good practice, boys are flying around,” Van Vleet said, as dozens of fans pressed against the glass of the Hall of Fame chanting his name as he attempted to. talk to the media.
“I wouldn’t even try and grade it anyway. There’s been a lot of breakdowns, a lot of mistakes, that’s to be expected. But I did think we played with great energy.”
The Raptors led by 11 points and 10 rebounds from Chris Boucher, one of only five Canadian players to have a floor in the game. Kelly Olynyk (no point, six rebounds) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (no point, five rebounds) hit the floor for the Jazz, while Dalano Banton (nine points) and Khem Birch (five points, five rebounds) also had time. . for the Raptors.
Of the 18 Raptors players, only Thaddeus Young failed to score.
“It just shows the support we have, playing in Canada, the fans supporting us wherever we play,” Boucher said. “It certainly made the environment better, but it’s still a pre-season game. There are still things we have to fix. But the fans certainly helped make it feel like it was. a real match.”
Jazz debuts a new starting lineup with twin towers of seven-foot, seven-foot Lauri Markkanen and Olynyk, in the forecourt. Markkanen finished as the Jazz’s top scorer with 20 points.
The Raptors’ seven-foot-tall rookie, Christian Koloko, made the most of his time in the ring, sending the crowd to their feet with a striking second-half late throw, and then using his huge wingspan. himself to make an acrobatic attempt. Koloko finished with seven points and three rebounds.
Matthew Kallio, originally from Edmonton, is one of the game’s officials. He is a non-NBA referee and has also been an executive at the Tokyo Olympics, but it is known in August he will become a personnel official for the tournament. He has moved to Calgary, but being part of this game in his hometown is special.
“There is so much honor and pride,” he said. “It’s been a long journey, a lot of work to get here. But, at the same time, it’s a basketball game. I like this game. But I will cherish the moment after the game, after the job is done.”
The first match Kallio ever played officially was at Edmonton’s Rosslyn School. Kallio is a middle school student, and was asked to join a junior game because there was no other introduction.
“I decided to throw a whistle around my neck and jump to the floor because my (physical education) teacher asked me to.”
And, does the attention of the Raptors in the rest of the country suggest that, although the Vancouver Grizzlies come and go, it’s time for another team in Canada?
“Expansion is not an easy topic,” Nurse said, “But as far as I know, game development has been pretty quick here, lately. And that would help any city that has a nice arena like this.
“I think the general development of the game across the country would definitely make a very viable team.”
This Canadian Press report was first published on October 2, 2022.