One game in and we have already learned a lot about the new look Toronto Raptors.
Let’s start with Kawhi Leonard, Toronto’s biggest off-season addition. It didn’t take “The Claw” very long to shake off any rust that he had after missing the bulk of the 2017-18 season with a leg injury while playing with San Antonio.
Leonard played a game-high 37:14, had 24 points and 13 rebounds, and was involved right from the opening tip-off and executed at both ends of the floor.
Veteran Kyle Lowry showed up in a big way in Toronto’s 116-104 season-opening win over Cleveland on Wednesday night.
He showed no ill effects while playing without friend and former teammate DeMar DeRozan (now with the Spurs), scoring a game-high 27 points, 15 of them coming from three-point land, and adding eight assists.
Third-year forward Pascal Siakim provided us with more proof that he has really come into his own and is ready to take the next step in his promising career. Siakim poured in 13 points in nearly 20 minutes of action in Game 1.
Nick Nurse pushed all the right buttons en route to earning a victory in his NBA head coaching debut and Toronto’s supporting cast — Jonas Valanciunas, Danny Green, Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka — made plays when they were called upon, both offensively and defensively.
This Raptors team is offensively gifted — they relentlessly defend their own basket, and they are going to be much tougher to play against than any other squad in franchise history.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will win more regular season games than last year’s club record 59, but the 2018-19 dinos are much better equipped to go a lot deeper come playoff team.