GANTER: Trouble-free doesn’t necessarily mean the Raptors wasted the preseason

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In terms of revelations, the Raptors’ preseason was a lot like a Tom Cruise movie.

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For the most part, you know what you’re going to get, and while it’s fun in places, there’s no real meat there. Nothing to make you sit up and take note, other than the odd highlight, or in Cruise’s case, the odd stunt.

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Considering the Raptors return all of their top eight from a year ago and the only movable addition to that end of the rotation is Otto Porter Jr., who has yet to play a significant minute due to a hamstring problem, this is hardly a surprise .

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In short, training camp was pretty uneventful.

We’ve seen rookie Christian Colocco almost certainly move his schedule forward with his play in both camp and games.

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Juan Hernangomez, another new face on the roster, has fit in well with his combination of basketball IQ, defensive acumen and has the trust of his new teammates with his outside shot and ability to cut to be an asset.

With Porter and Chris Boucher still dealing with hamstring issues, head coach Nick Nurse suggested Thursday that the Spanish standout will have a significant role early on, and even after they heal, his three-point game will likely gain minutes.

But beyond that, this entire preseason has been more about finding combinations that can bolster an offense that struggled in the half court a year ago, not to mention pales in comparison to the shooting department of some of the other contending teams in the East.

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But whatever offensive challenges this team has, they also have a quiet confidence that their combination of speed, athleticism and defensive interchangeability can more than make up for anything they lack.

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“It’s just a balancing act,” veteran point guard Fred Van Vleet said of the Raptors’ approach to improving this offense. “There is no perfect team and we definitely don’t fit the mold. Where we are strong, we should focus on those strengths. Where we are weak, we should focus on where we can get better.

“Some things are what they are,” he said. “Half-court offense, especially late, comes down to execution, IQ and smarts and picking the right matchups and making shots. I remember a lot of games where we stuffed our asses and couldn’t get a shot off. It’s one of those things you don’t want to get carried away with. There is definitely room for improvement. As a team, all you can do is try to improve every day.”

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Nurse believes the fast pace, especially when the team is in transition, will make up for any half-court or shooting lapses the team may have.

“First, I think we should run, shouldn’t we,” said Sister. “I think we should run for several reasons. One is we want them to play all that defense, right? And that should turn into something productive, right? I mean, you’ve got to take advantage when you’re shaking the ball and creating advantages, you’ve got to turn them into points on the scoreboard. right And I think in general if we’re going to use some of that depth, then we’ve got to be able to play at a higher speed as well.”
From the nurse to his team leaders VanVleet and Siakam, this group knows where they are good and where they are lacking.

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Using that knowledge and figuring out how to capitalize on it doesn’t make for an eventful preseason, but no one cares or remembers what happens in the preseason anyway.


Chris Boucher, dealing with a hamstring problem, was never going to be ready to play in Montreal in tonight’s preseason finale, but now he won’t even make the trip. A non-Covid-related illness would keep him in Toronto, leaving the Montreal fanbase with only one native son to cheer for, and that would be Khem Birch.


Coming off his Rookie of the Year campaign, Scotty Barnes naturally has a bit of a goal for himself.

Teams will game plan to stop him, of course, but the less obvious target is fan expectations, and dealing with them can be a dangerous situation.

However, Barnes sounds like someone who already has a solid game plan when it comes to dealing with outside expectations.

“I’m just going on the floor, trying to help us win,” Barnes said. “Any way I can, I try to have that impact on the floor defensively, offensively, I try to take what I’m given, I just try to play the right way while I’m on the floor. I don’t really think about (expectations) when I’m on the floor. So I’m just out there playing and trying to do what I can.”

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